In Italy, “Carne alla Pizzaiola”, literally “meat cooked in the Pizza style”, is a rather common secondo piatto which owes its popularity to its simplicity and rich taste. It is a classic of the Neapolitan cuisine, and although no one really knows when or by whom it was invented, the name Pizzaiola easily suggests ties to old time’s pizza makers and their cooking ingenuity.
The classic Pizzaiola recipe, the one I learned at home, calls for a slow cooking of veal or beef cutlets with an unsophisticated mix of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and oregano; modern versions, as an alternative, advise to quickly sauté the meat with oil, garlic and splash of wine before finishing the cooking in a simple oregano and tomato sauce.
I decided to give you the option to try both versions and decide for yourself which one is your favorite Pizzaiola cutlets recipe.
Ingredients and Instructions (serves 4):
- 2 pounds (900 g) of veal or beef cutlets
- 1 pound (450 g) of canned tomatoes, crushed
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tablespoon of dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine (variation recipe)
- Start by cleaning the slices of meat, trimming any excessive fat and tough cartilage.
- In a large skillet, slightly sauté the garlic in the olive oil over medium fire; when it starts browning, remove the garlic and add the crushed tomatoes with their juice. Season with the dried oregano, a pinch of salt and pepper and then let simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until the seasoning has flavored the tomato sauce.
- Lay the slices of meat in the sauce, cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for about an hour, checking time to time that the liquid of the sauce does not reduce too much and adding a little water as needed.
- Start by sautéing the garlic in the olive oil over medium fire; when it starts browning, remove it from the pan, and add the cutlets, cooking them for about 1 minute each side. Add a splash of wine and let evaporate for another minute. When done, transfer the meat to a plate and set aside.
- In the same pan, make the tomato sauce, using the cooking juices of the meat. Simply add the crushed tomatoes, the oregano, a pinch of salt and pepper, then cover, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the liquid is reduced and the sauce has a nice thick consistency.
- Return the slices of meat to the pan and heat all the way through. Serve warm with a side of veggies or – the Italian way – just with a nice mixed salad, but do not forget some slices of artisan bread, so your guests can mop up the delicious sauce from their plate at the end.
Wine suggestions: a medium-bodied red, such as Barbera or Sangiovese, would be my choice for Carne alla Pizzaiola.
Cinzia Aversa, 2013