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Milanesa Napolitana: The Culinary Staple of Argentinian Food

milanesa napolitana in argentinian food

Milanesa napolitana, a cornerstone of Argentinian food, is a result of the rich heritage of Italian and Argentine influences.

A milanesa is a thin-sliced piece of beef dipped in egg and covered with breadcrumbs. And milanesa napolitana adds some strategic ingredients to enhance flavors and turn it into a simple masterpiece.

If you love the power of combining simple yet extraordinary flavors, you should try this exquisite dish without hesitation! 

Among the incredible variety of Argentinian food we can find the delicious milanesa napolitana, a traditional dish highly popular in Argentina cuisine as well as in Uruguay.

It is essentially a variation of the classic milanesa: breaded meat fried to a golden crisp, which is a technique rooted in Italian culinary heritage adapted into a cherished food from Argentina.

What sets milanesa napolitana apart is the addition of tomato sauce, ham, and a generous layer of melted mozzarella cheese. 

Curiously, the name milanesa “napolitana” doesn’t come from Napoli, the Italian city, but it’s called after the name of its creator, who owned a restaurant in Buenos Aires. 

To truly appreciate this delicacy, let’s explore the fascinating milanesa history that laid the foundation for this beloved Argentine dish

Milanesa is a result of the enormous Italian influence in Argentina, since many Italians migrated to Argentina in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bringing with them their culinary customs and techniques. Among these was the recipe for “Cotoletta alla Milanese,” a breaded and fried cutlet of meat that they adapted to use Argentinian beef. 

The specific origin of milanesa napolitana begins in Buenos Aires, when Mr. José Napoli created his “Milanesa alla Napoli”. In the 1940s, a customer ordered a milanesa in a restaurant close to Luna Park stadium. There was only one milanesa left and it got burned, so Mr. Napoli tried to cover up the incident by adding ham, cheese, and tomato sauce on top of the steak. The customer loved it and, therefore, Napoli began to present the dish as a house specialty. The dish was a hit with customers, and it quickly became a popular menu item.

Today, “Milanesa alla Napoli” is known as Milanesa napolitana and stands as an emblematic representation of Buenos Aires cuisine and Argentinian food as a whole. 

Now, if you’re wondering how to make milanesa napolitana, we’ll explain the steps through a simple breaded meat recipe to transform it into an irresistible beef milanesa napolitana.

Let’s roll up our sleeves!

Ingredients:

  • 4 thin slices of beef.
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs to provide a crispy texture. 
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (can be prepared with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices).
  • 1 cup thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ham slices.
  • 3 large eggs.
  • 1 teaspoon oregano.
  • Salt.
  • Freshly ground black pepper.
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil.

Preparation:

  1. Place the eggs in a bowl and whisk together with oregano, salt, and pepper. 
  2. Dip each beef cutlet into beaten eggs, allowing the excess to drip off. Then, coat them with breadcrumbs. Make sure to press the breadcrumbs onto the meat to ensure they adhere well.
  3. Heat a pan with vegetable oil over medium-high heat and place the breaded steaks into the pan carefully. Fry them for a few minutes per side until they’re golden brown and crispy. 
  4. Remove the steaks from the pan and place them on a baking dish. On top of each cutlet, layer a slice of ham, a generous spoonful of tomato sauce, and slices of mozzarella cheese. 
  5. Preheat your oven to a moderate temperature (around 350°F), place the baking dish inside, and bake until the cheese melts.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy!
Wine Pairing with Milanesa Napolitana (for an Authentic Argentinian Food Experience)

Since milanesa napolitana is a hearty and flavorful dish, it pairs wonderfully with a variety of wines: 

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: A full-bodied red wine with deep, dark berry notes and hints of spice. It’s great for milanesa napolitana because it cuts through the richness of the dish, but it’s not too heavy, creating a harmonious pairing. 
  • Sauvignon Blanc: This is a refreshing white wine with crisp acidity and citrusy flavors that can provide a good counterpoint to the richness of milanesa napolitana, and it can help balance out the flavors of the tomato sauce and cheese. 
  • Malbec: Malbec is a full-bodied red wine known for its bold and fruity flavors. It’s a classic pairing for Argentine beef dishes, as its robust character pairs greatly with the savory elements of the dish. 
  • Chardonnay: Chardonnay is a full-bodied white wine with notes of butter and oak that can complement the dish’s cheese and offer a refreshing contrast. 
  • Sparkling Wine: You can also consider a sparkling wine or Champagne, as the effervescence and crispness can cut through the dish’s heaviness. Sparkling wine can help cleanse the palate between bites of the dish. 
Accompaniments for Milanesa Napolitana

Although a milanesa napolitana doesn’t really need any accompaniment, we’d like to explore the most popular side dishes for breaded meat dishes to create a memorable meal.

  • French Fries: French fries are a classic sidekick to milanesa napolitana. They offer a satisfying crunch alongside the tender meat.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are another classic, and they offer a smooth and hearty contrast. 
  • Grilled Vegetables: Grilled or roasted vegetables, such as zucchini or asparagus, add a healthy touch.
  • Garden Salad: A salad combining lettuce, tomatoes, and onions drizzled with a tangy vinaigrette provides a delightful contrast to the richness of the dish.
  • Rice Pilaf: A rice pilaf with herbs and spices can help absorb the savory tomato sauce beautifully.

While the classic milanesa napolitana remains a culinary masterpiece, there are some variations and creative twists on this Argentine classic that are worth it to know and try:

Vegetarian Milanesas Options

These vegetarian versions are very tasty and offer a cruelty-free option. 

As the popularity of plant-based diets grows, chefs have introduced vegetarian versions of milanesa napolitana, where instead of meat, ingredients like eggplant, soy, and beans are used as the base, and then are breaded and fried just like the traditional version. 

They can be topped with vegetables, such as grilled onions, peppers, or mushrooms.

Chicken or Pork Milanesas Variations

While beef is the traditional choice, chicken and pork are quite popular alternatives. 

Chicken milanesa napolitana features tenderized chicken breasts, which provide a lighter flavor profile. 

The pork version offers its unique savory notes but it’s less frequently seen on menus.

Seafood Milanesas Versions

There’s also a delicious alternative using fish like hake fillet. 

The flavors of seafood and the crispy breading create a fusion of land and sea that is really interesting.

Creative Twists on the Classic Recipe

Some twists on the classic recipe include adding ingredients like bacon, roasted red peppers, or even pineapple slices, but these are quite uncommon.

These variations showcase the versatility of the dish. In fact, you can get creative with your milanesa napolitana toppings. For example, try topping it with different types of cheese like cheddar. 

Milanesa napolitana is a clear example of Argentina’s culinary heritage. It’s a representation of the country’s rich cultural amalgamation with the echoes of Italian immigration and adaptation.

If you are in Atlanta, you can enjoy authentic Argentine milanesa napolitana at Sabores del Plata, located at 6200 Buford Highway, Norcross, Georgia 30071, and transport to the fascinating streets of Buenos Aires!

Just book a table and come on in!

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