The milanesa is a dish common in Latin American countries where generic types of breaded meat fillet preparations are known as a milanesa.
As with much of Argentine cuisine and culture, the roots of the Argentine milanesa are traced back to Italy. The milanesa was brought to the Southern Cone of South America by Italian immigrants during the mass emigration called the Italian diaspora between 1860-1920s. Its name probably reflects an original Milanese preparation, cotoletta alla Milanese, a thin steak or veal chop, dipped in breadcrumbs and friedwhich is similar to the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel.
Generally, a milanesa consists of a thin slice of beef, chicken, veal, or sometimes pork, and even eggplants or soy. In its most basic form, the Argentine milanesa is a simply breaded, thin slice of prime beef from the peceto(round roast cut) or the nalga (eye of round). When selecting your steaks, make sure to look for steaks with little fat and no sinew, which makes the milanesa curl up as you cook it.Ask your local butcher to thinly cut the meat for your milanesas to about 1/4-inch. Once you get them home, soak them in the fridge for an hour or so in a mixture of beaten egg, a splash of milk, a sprinkle of salt, and some finely chopped parsley and garlic. Add a touch of oregano or dried chilies if you crave a spicy taste. When you are ready to cook, dip cutlets in the breadcrumbs (or occasionally flour). I personally like to use Japanese Panko breadcrumbs. You can use whatever yo unlike, as long the breadcrumbs are dry.
Traditionally, milansesa are shallow-fried in oil, one at a time. Some people prefer to use very little oil and then bake them in the oven as a healthier alternative.
There are a million if not more recipes and variations for milanesas. If you want the pure and traditional milanesa experience, squeeze lemon over the crispy hot delicacies and serve with creamy mashed potatoes or fries. But if you want to go a bit fancy, serve it a caballo – on horseback – where a fried egg tops the delicious concoction.
Milanesa napolitana is a variation of the breaded fried steak dish that is popular in Argentina and Uruguay. Milanesa a la Napolitana did not originate from Milan or Naples – it’s thought to have been invented in the 1940’s at a Buenos Aires restaurant called “Nápoli”.
Milanesa napolitana is also very similar to veal Parmesan, but with South American touches – after the steak is breaded and fried, it’s topped with a slice of ham, tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella cheese, and served with french fries.Leftovers make great sandwiches, especially when paired with a soft but crusty roll, just like the lunchtime classic – the sándwich de milanesa. For a basic sandwich, add tomato and lettuce, and you are good to go. Milanesa completa is the slightly souped up version with lettuce, tomato, cheese and ham.
6 thinly sliced skillet steaks, such as top round
Dried oregano, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
6 slices of deli ham (or proscuitto)
2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
Lemon wedges, for serving
Fresh chopped or sliced tomatoes, for garnish (optional)
Oven baked fries, for serving
Whisk together the eggs, parsley, milk, garlic and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste.Place the steaks in the egg mixture, cover with plastic wrap and leave the steaks soaking for 30 minutes to one hour in the fridge. The more time the better.
In another shallow pan, stir the Parmesan cheese and garlic into the bread crumbs and set aside.
Remove the steaks from the egg mixture and one by one, dredge the steaks in the crumbs, turning and pressing firmly until they are well coated.
Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet, and cook steaks for several minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy. Drain steaks on paper towels. See the Cook’s Notes for the oven baked cooking method.
Place the cooked steaks on a baking sheet. Turn on the oven broiler. Top each steak with a slice of ham, 2-3 tablespoons tomato sauce, and 1/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with oregano over the cheese and place steaks under broiler until cheese melts.
If desired, top the finished dish with chopped or sliced tomatoes and serve warm, with fries.
Alternative Oven Baked Cooking Method:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly brush a baking sheet with oil and heat it up in the oven.
Place the milanesas on the prepared baking sheet and place the steaks in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown.
Turn over the milanesas and spread on a layer of 2-3 tablespoons tomato sauce, a slice of ham, 1/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with oregano. Turn on oven broiler. Place steaks under broiler until cheese melts.