In Argentina, country of asados (grilled meats), meat is king. The locals are crazy about it, and are always looking for original and delicious ways to taste it. And this recipe for milanesa a la napolitana just confirms this.
What is milanesa a la napolitana?
Milanesa a la napolitana consists of a thin slice of beef filet, dipped in a mixture of eggs and then coated with breadcrumbs before pan-fried. The fried steak is then topped with tomato sauce, ham and mozzarella cheese and then baked in the oven like a pizza. It is typically served with French fries or white rice.
It is actually a gourmet version of milanesa (only the piece of breaded meat), a great classic of Argentine cuisine with Italian influences. Always fond of meat dishes, Argentines consider this dish to be the ultimate comfort food.
Besides, even if it is officially a typical Argentinian dish, milanesa a la napolitana is also very popular in Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. You can also make it with chicken, veal, pork, and even fish.
What is the origin of milanesa a la napolitana?
The origin of milanesa a la napolitana begins with milanesa, a recipe itself inspired by an Italian dish, cotoletta alla Milanese. The latter was also exported to Austria, under the name of Wiener schnitzel (Viennese cutlet).
Milanesa appeared in Argentina between 1860 and 1920, during the strong wave of immigration from Europe and especially from Italy to Latin America. Italian gastronomy was immediately appreciated and adopted by the South Americans, who hastened to adapt it with local ingredients and preparation methods.
This is how the cotoletta alla Milanese, a dish from Milan, in Lombardy, became one of the favorite dishes of the Argentines who renamed it milanesa in Spanish. Their love for it is such that on May 3, the “National Day of Milanesa” is celebrated across the country.
The version of milanesa a la napolitana is entirely Argentinian and has nothing to do with the city of Naples in Italy. It was born in Buenos Aires in the 1940s in the kitchens of a small restaurant called Nápoli.
The story around the invention of the dish explains that it would be the result of a culinary mistake. One evening, while he was preparing a milanesa for a regular customer, the chef of the Nápoli accidentally burnt the piece of meat. In a desperate attempt to hide the mess, the restaurant manager, Jorge La Grotta, decided to cover the overcooked breaded steak with ham, tomato sauce and cheese.
He then presented the dish to the customer as being the new culinary creation of the restaurant. The customer found it delicious. Faced with this great success, milanesa a la Nápoli became a real sensation and found its way to the restaurant menu. Soon, many other restaurants across the country copied the idea and the name gradually became milanesa a la napolitana.
Milanesa a la napolitana around the world
When the recipe is made with chicken breast instead of beef, in South America it is called suprema a la napolitana. The rest of the ingredients are exactly the same: tomato sauce, ham and cheese.
This same dish (without the ham), better known as chicken parmigiana, is also very popular in North America and Australia. It was born in the United States in 1950, once again inspired by the culinary culture brought by Italian immigrants to the territory.
In England, parmo is a piece of breaded pork covered with a cheddar béchamel sauce.
Finally, there are undeniable similarities with the cordon bleu, a dish which actually has Swiss origins. The meat cutlet, usually turkey but also chicken, pork or veal, is rolled around a slice of ham and cheese before being fully breaded.
- 4 beef cutlets sirloin, tenderloin, (½ inch / 1 cm thick), tenderized
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 4 eggs beaten
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- 4 slices ham
- 3 tablespoons grated parmesan
- 4 slices mozzarella
- ½ cup tomato coulis
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Season the beef with salt, pepper, parmesan, garlic and oregano, rubbing well with the hands so the meat soaks up the flavors.
- Dip the beef cutlets in the eggs, then coat with the breadcrumbs.
- Heat a large volume of vegetable oil in a frying pan to a temperature of 340 F (170ºC).
- Fry the beef cutlets on both sides until they are golden brown.
- Set them aside on a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess oil.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (180ºC).
- Pour the tomato coulis into a large bowl.
- Dip all the freshly fried cutlets in the coulis and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- On each slice of meat, place a slice of ham and a slice of mozzarella.
- Bake 5 minutes in the oven or until everything is browned.
- Serve with French fries or white rice and a green salad.