Meat is front and center in the Argentinean gastronomic tradition, and milanesa, both golden and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, is a classic of South American cuisine, a variation of the famous Italian dish veal Milanese.
Argentina is a land that is located at the southern tip of South America, along with Chile, and where traditions mingle with modernity. More than 90% of the Argentinian population is of European descent and comes mainly from Italy and Spain. That is why you could say that Tierra Argentina (Silver Land), as the first Spanish conquistadors called it in the 17th century, retains something typically Italian.
Welcome to the land of football, tango, the Pampas, the majestic glaciers of Patagonia, and the Andes!
Argentine cuisine, following the great flow of immigration, has captured various important influences.
Indeed, over the years, many cultures have contributed to make the culinary tradition of Argentina what it is today, including Italian and Spanish, but also Portuguese, English, German, Japanese, Russian, and Turkish.
What is milanesa?
Milanesa was introduced to Latin America by Italian immigrants during the mass immigration of the diaspora between 1860 and 1920. This immigration was even stronger in Argentina where there is therefore a true tradition for this dish of Italian origin.
Milanesa consists of thin slices of beef, poultry, veal or sometimes pork. Each slice is dipped in beaten eggs, that are seasoned with salt and other seasoning depending on recipes, such as garlic, parsley or oregano. Each slice is then generously topped with bread crumbs and sometimes flour and lightly fried in an oil bath.
Its name derives from a Milanese recipe, cotoletta alla milanese (veal Milanese), which is similar to Wiener schnitzel (Viennese breaded schnitzel).
What is the origin of cotoletta alla milanese, the mother of milanesa?
Cotoletta alla milanese is, with the Milanese risotto and panettone, the most typical and well-known dish in Milan, capital of the Lombardy region of Italy.
Prepared traditionally with veal (veal milanese), the most popular meat of Lombardy, veal Milanese is one of the most popular dishes in the world that is nowadays, also prepared with other meats such as chicken (chicken milanese) or pork (pork milanese).
However, the original, with veal, imposes strict preparation rules, such as the use of a bone-in cut at the top of the animal, and butter for frying.
The difference between veal Milanese and Wiener schnitzel
Between veal Milanese and Wiener schnitzel, there has always been a culinary difference. The main one concerns the cut of the meat: for the former, the presence of the bone is essential, which is not necessary for the latter, whose preparation uses thin or even very thin cuts of meat .
Popular all over the world, the veal milanese recipe is much older than that of its Austrian cousin. As culinary historian Silvia Tropea Montagnosi explains: the authentic recipe for cotoletta alla milanese is a thick chop whose bone was cut between the first and the sixth rib of the loin of a dairy calf. Wiener schnitzel, meanwhile, is very thin (half an inch) and is vigorously thinned with a mallet before being cooked. Finally, the Austrian specialty was traditionally and is still often fried in pork fat rather than butter.
Legend has it that the controversy and the dispute ended when Radetsky, the Austrian Marshal, admitted that he had never eaten such succulent meat as veal Milanese in Austria.
The cotoletta alla Milanese has its origins in a dish called lombolos cum panitio. In Latin, lumbus means kidney and panitio refers to bread (breadcrumbs).
According to some historians, the first indication of this veal Milanese dates back to lombolos cum panitio included in the list of dishes of the lunches of Sant’Ambrogio canons during the solemn festivities of the twelfth century, a description reported by Pietro Verri, a philosopher, economist, historian and Italian writer in his book Storia di Milano, a work dating from 1183. The dish was included in a menu of nine dishes for banquets offered to the canons of the basilica, until September 17, 1134.
Dia de la Milanesa
Every year, on May 3rd, the Argentineans celebrate this most typical recipe of the country. The date was born from an initiative of a group of Argentineans who promoted this day on social media.
Although the Milanese name comes from the Italian city of Milan, it has become a traditional dish of Argentinian, Paraguayan, Uruguayan and Bolivian cuisine because of the strong immigration of Italians to the Cuenca del Plata in the late nineteenth century.
Argentines, young and old, all love milanesa and I can’t blame them. We tasted them just out of the pan, accompanied by French fries. They were excellent !
- 2 lb beef tenderloin , thinly sliced (about ½ inch / 1 cm thick)
- 2 eggs , beaten
- 1 lb bread crumbs
- 2 cloves garlic , chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Black pepper
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
- Remove the excess fat and nerves from the slices of beef.
- Soften the beef slices very slightly with a mallet.
- Mix the garlic and parsley with the beaten eggs, salt and pepper.
- Dip the beef slices in the beaten eggs, mix well and set aside in a cool place for 45 minutes.
Pour the oil in a pan over medium-high heat and heat to 340 F / 170 C.
- Generously dredge each slice of beef in bread crumbs.
- Fry the milanesa a few minutes on each side.
- Remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels.
Milanesas can be served with French fries, mashed potatoes, green salad, potato salad, roasted peppers, or tomatoes seasoned with oregano.