Milanesa is something my mother used to make when I was a kid. It sounds more exotic than it actually is – in fact most of you have probably eaten something that could be called milanesa, though it may have been called something else (like Weinerschnitzel if you eat it in Germany). It is usually a meat or fish that is cut or pounded thin, dipped in a beaten egg and bread crumbs, and then pan-fried until browned and cooked through. It can even be made with eggplant. Milanesa was brought to this region of South America by Italian immigrants, and you can also order the dish at many Italian restaurants.
For a quick Sunday dinner yesterday (plus an extra lunch meal for the week), I bought two small sirloin tip steaks which worked very well for this purpose. I placed the steaks between sheets of waxed paper and pounded them thin with my rolling pin. The steaks were then seasoned with salt and pepper, dipped in egg and bread crumbs and set aside for about 15 minutes to rest. Then I fried them over medium high heat, until nicely browned on both sides.
I knew a lot of Spanish food words already, from my many years of Spanish class and cross cultural semester in Guatemala. But a new one for me this month is acelga. My friend Debora kept telling me about acelga and was trying to explain what it looked like. My best guess was Swiss chard, and when I looked up the word online later, that’s what it was! I found a recipe for Swiss Chard with Almonds (Acelga con Almendras) that sounded delicious, and it seemed like a nice side dish for the milanesa. Swiss chard and a potato were pre-cooked, and then fried briefly together with a roasted red pepper. A broth with flour was poured in with the vegetables and cooked until thickened into a nice sauce. Served with toasted sliced almonds on top – it’s delicious!
Though the region’s ingredients are items also common to the North American diet, it has been interesting to learn which ingredients are more popular, such as eggplant and Swiss chard. The combinations and cooking techniques are sometimes a little different, but many of the flavors are familiar.