Milanesas is one of THE national dishes of Argentina and there are many different versions. Originally we make them with beef (the closest beef cut in the UK is topside) but chicken is also popular. Vegetarian versions such as soya milanesas and aubergine milanesas are becoming more popular too.
Milanesas napolitana, although it sounds Italian, is an argentine version of the milanesa which was created in the late 1940s in Buenos Aires by Jorge La Grotta, the owner of a restaurant called Napoli as he searched to change the recipe of the original milanesas. He therefore added tomato sauce, ham and mozzarella to make ‘milanesas napolitana’
Milanesas obviously have an Italian influence and that is because Italian is the largest ethnic origin of modern Argentines, and it is estimated that up to 30 million Argentines have some degree of Italian ancestry (62.5% of the total population). Due to this inheritance, a large number of Argentines, like myself have dual nationality, Argentine and Italian.
I absolutely love milanesas, particularly milanesas napolitana and they are my go to Argentine recipe when I have guests coming over, it is easy, yummy and although perhaps not the healthiest, just pure comfort food!
Milanesas are can be served with either potato chips (fries for the Americans!) or creamy mash potato. I mostly prefer to serve with mash potatoes but lets be honest sometimes nothing can beat good crispy chips.
What will I need to make milanesas napolitana?
- Good beef steaks: The cut of the beef is very important. You don’t want beef that has a lot of fat in the middle or sides and you want thin steaks. Topside is a good cut to use in the UK. I bought a 750g beef joint from the supermarket which I sliced into thin steaks however if you go to a good butcher, they’ll do it for you (and do a much better job than I did!).
- Meat tenderiser: If you don’t have a meat tenderiser (you can usually find them in most large supermarkets), cover your steaks with some cling film and use a rolling pin to tenderise your steaks.
- Crushed garlic: ESSENTIAL for milanesas and can’t do without! Crushed garlic will be used to season the steaks and also for the tomato sauce.
- Fresh parsley: Used to season the steaks and gives it a very nice touch. If you don’t have fresh, dried parsley is absolutely ok too. If you have no parsley at all, it is not essential (but very much recommended).
- Eggs: Beaten to dip beef steaks before breading.
- Breadcrumbs: Cannot do milanesas without breadcrumbs. I used shop bought golden breadcrumbs but please do make your own if you fancy!
- Cumin: Just a touch of cumin is added onto the breadcrumbs. It is not essential BUT it does give it such a lovely touch to the milanesas. I highly recommend you add it.
- Salt and pepper: Steaks need to be seasoned with salt and pepper. Salt and pepper is also used to season the tomato sauce and mash potatoes.
- Vegetable oil: To fry the milanesas and to make the tomato sauce. You can use olive oil otherwise too.
- Can of chopped tomatoes/ passata: You are going to make a little tomato sauce to make your milanesas napolitana.
- Small onion: very thinly chopped to make the tomato sauce
- Dried oregano: To add to the tomato sauce and to add on top of mozzarella.
- Thin slices of ham and good mozzarella: Needed to make the milanesas napolitana
- Maris Piper potatoes: Can’t do mash with potatoes!
- Butter and milk: To season the mash potatoes.
- Grated nutmeg: The KEY to argentine mash potatoes – MUST TRY!
This recipe will make milanesas and mash for 4 people. If you make extra milanesas you can freeze them for future or after frying, keep in a Tupperware in the fridge. 🙂
- 4 thin beef steaks (topside is a good cut to use in the UK)
- 4 crushed garlic (3 are for seasoning the steaks and 1 is for the tomato sauce)
- Good amount of chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 container of breadcrumbs (Paxo breadcrumbs is 227g and that was enough)
- 1/4 tsp cumin powder
- 100ml vegetable oil
- 1/2 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 small chopped onion
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 4 ham slices
- 150g mozzarella ball
- 1kg Maris Piper potatoes (or any other good potatoes for mash)
- 50g butter
- dash of milk
- Good amount of grated nutmeg (or nutmeg powder)
To make the milanesas:
- Tenderise each beef steak using the meat tenderiser. Add minced garlic and chopped parsley on top of one of the sides of of each steak. Add salt and pepper to each steak.
- Whisk the two eggs in a container and dip all the steaks into the eggs.
- Spread the breadcrumbs in a dish, add the cumin and mix. Bread each steak by putting on the breadcrumbs, covering the top of each steak with breadcrumbs, pressing on the top and turning around to repeat process. Place all breaded steaks onto a plate.
- Heat your vegetable oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, fry each milanesa until golden on both sides (will not take very long). Place all fried milanesas on a plate with kitchen towel to remove any excess oil.
To make the tomato sauce:
- Fry the small chopped onion and crushed garlic on a tbsp of oil until cooked.
- Add 1/2 the can of chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper and dried oregano.
- Cook for 5-10 minutes until the excess water has evaporated and the tomato sauce has cooked.
To build and bake the milanesas napolitana:
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degree Celsius.
- Place all fried milanesas on baking tray covered with parchment paper (KEY otherwise the milanesas tend to stick to tray!).
- Cover all milanesas generously with the tomato sauce.
- Add pieces of the thinly sliced ham on top of the tomato sauce and cover generously with sliced mozzarella.
- Sprinkle the top with dried oregano and bake in the oven until the mozzarella has melted (10-15 minutes)
To make the mash potatoes:
- Add 3 litres of water in a large pan and bring to a boil.
- Add the chopped potatoes and boil the potatoes until they are soft and crumbly.
- Use a sieve to drain the water.
- Mash potatoes, add the butter, dash of milk, salt, pepper and mix.
- Grate nutmeg (or add nutmeg powder) generously and mix to give it an extra argentine touch.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family and I do. It is such a wonderful recipe to cook for when family and friends come together and I look forward to hearing how it goes!
Buen provecho 🙂