Sunday, June 28, 2009
My Sunday Milonga
My kitchen spent all of Sunday in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have to admit I didn't really know much about Argentina besides the tango... but, seriously, if you've never seen Argentine tango, you're missing out; I love to salsa and I'll run to the dancefloor when I hear a cha-cha, but I am flat-out mesmorized when I see Argentine tango. Anyway, that's dance, not food--but I will admit that I was wondering if the food would wow me as much as the dance.
I had to research this one a little more. Apparently Argentina is heavy in the meat exports so their normal diets are very protein-rich. Lots of beef, lots of carne asada. If I didn't live in an apartment (with no balcony), I would have definitely hit the grill for this "trip." Having that option removed, I looked into another interesting influence: Italy. A great deal of traditionally Argentinian food has roots stemming from Italy (due to high immigration). I could've made spaghetti! Ha, not exactly the results I'm aiming for with this blog. I did find, however, that one of the most common dishes are milanesas. There are TONS of variations, but the recipe I chose is probably considered their Milanesa a la Napolitana. It's a breaded sirloin steak topped with tomato sauce or a slice of tomato and melted mozzarella. Customarily served with french fries or something to that effect...
Milanesa a la Napolitana
1/2 cup milk
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
3 tbsps grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsps fresh parsley, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 lb beef sirloin steaks
Oil (for frying)
1 large tomato
mozzarella cheese, sliced
Whisk eggs and milk in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Dip steaks in egg mixture, then coat with crumb mixture. Dip steaks back in egg mixture and again in crumb mixture (you will be double-coating).
Heat approximately 1/4" to 1/2" cooking oil in a large skillet, depth is determined by thickness of steaks. Brown steaks in oil for approximately 2-3 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness. Drain steaks on paper towels.
Transfer steaks to a baking sheet. Top each steak with a slice of tomato (or slices, if multiple will fit), then the mozzarella. Steaks should be almost completely covered. Broil until cheese melts.
Serve with french fries or salad.
This recipe came from a Taste of Home submission, from a woman raised in Argentina. While perusing through recipes, I noticed that some variations used tomato sauce or even a chunky salsa, and some used a fresh tomato slice. I decided to use the tomato slice. Also, the TOH recipe only has the steaks dredged once, while most other recipes I found had a double coating of the crumb mixture.
Although this is another recipe that comes together very quickly (maybe 20-30 minutes, depending on how you like your steak cooked), this is a prime example of how important quality ingredients are. The final product was very tasty and I'm looking forward to finishing off the leftovers, but I should have upgraded the steak that I selected. Considering that I found most recipes to include cutting the steaks thin or tenderizing them into thinner pieces, I thought it was beneficial to pick up thin sliced steaks to save me that step in the kitchen. For a country all-about meat, this recipe really needs high-quality steaks in order to get the best results. The breading and the topping, however, are still fantastic. I'm a fan of the double-coating because it leaves the steaks with a savory, crispy crust. It's almost stuffing-like, as opposed to the crispy chip-like feel of fried chicken. Even better, you can still achieve crispy goodness on the outside and rare steak perfection on the inside (yes, I believe my steak should blush at me when I cut into it!).
Another potential change to the recipe... I never found anywhere to clarify what kind of mozzarella is typically used. There's a huge difference between deli sandwich mozzarella and fresh, so I went with fresh (again, there are some things that are crazy not to use--fresh mozzarella is indisputably among them). Now considering how easy this dish is, I'm certainly going to make it again. I will, however, be more careful next time and get a better quality steak or even possibly a slightly thicker cut. But the combination of fresh tomato and mozzarella and savory--not strong enough to be salty--steak is a perfect way to end the day.