A couple of days ago, I posted the all-too-famous recipe for Wiener Schnitzel, which we enjoy oh-so-very much here in Germany. Breaded cutlets are no German invention, however, and the art of coating a cutlet of any kind of meat with breading or batter and either frying or baking it is actually popular all around the globe. Whether it’s Schnitzel in Germany, cotoletta or parmigiana-style in Italy, escalope in France, katsu in Japan, or kotlet in Poland, this particular Latin American style known as milanesa is a huge contendor in the breaded meat department.
The milanesa is, in truth, a variation of an Italian dish called cotoletta alla Milanese (similar to the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel), where generic types of breaded meat fillet preparations are known by the name. Its name literally means ‘from Milan’, due to the strong influence of the great Italian culture. It was brought to the American southern cone by Italian immigrants during the mass migration – the Italian diaspora circa 1900. A milanesa can be prepared with a thin slice of beef, chicken, veal, or pork, and even sometimes eggplants, tempeh, or soy. Each slice is dipped into beaten foamy eggs, seasoned with salt, dipped in flour and shallow-fried in oil, one at a time.
In South America, particularly Argentina, Uruguay & Venezuela, the milanesa is a typical dish. The food is found easily in street restaurants and often cooked at home, usually made of beef, pork, or chicken. Up north in Central America & even the Caribbean, milanesa is usually made of sirloin and often served with slices of lime, and eaten with white rice & other common side dishes, such as salad or vegetables, or my delicious escabeche, which is always a great compliment to any meal!
Regional varieties exist through-out America, for sure, which is why this recipe had to be included in my repertoire in addition to the delicious Wiener Schnitzel recipe from earlier. There’s just something magical about milanesas…might be the beef talking, but they sure bring me such fond memories from home!
For the Milanesas
- 1 pound of round steaks, cut no more than 1/2 inch thick, tenderized
- 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons of water
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of corn flour
- Vegetable oil, for shallow-frying
- Lime wedges, for garnishing
Start by pounding each meat steak to tenderize, until thin & soft. Toss the meat with the juice of one lime, salt & pepper. In the meantime, set up your breading station. Lightly beat the eggs with water in a bowl and spread the flour on a large plate. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet.
One at a time, dip the steaks in flour, then in eggs, then back through the flour. Fry until cooked through, about 4 minutes, crisp & brown on both sides. Keep the cook steaks warm in a 250 degree oven while you finish up and serve as quickly as possible!