Carne alla Pizzaiola

Alla Pizzaiola indicates something like “pizza style” and is not a clearly defined term in Italian cooking. The basic recipe for Carne alla Pizzaiola (meat pizza-style) is thin slices of meat (usually beef, but it can be prepared with other types of meat as well) cooked in a simple tomato sauce. To the tomato sauce you can add ‘pizza style’ ingredients like oregano, olives, capers, etc. It is a simple dish with a lot of flavor that in Italy is often served as piatto unico with mashed or roasted potatoes. It is easy to prepare, as you should only take care that you do not overcook the meat. An interesting point about carne alla pizzaiola is that in all the recipes that I have seen, the meat is not browned first.

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On a side note, “alla pizzaiola” literally means “in the style of the pizza maker’s wife”, just like alla cacciatora (in the style of the hunter’s wife) and alla carbonara (in the style of the miner’s wife). I don’t believe such names should be taken too literally, but more in the sense of “like a pizza maker’s wife would make it”. Anyway, here’s my version of carne alla pizzaiola.

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

300 grams (.66 lbs) slices of beef sirloin, pounded thin

1/2 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp black olives, pitted and sliced

1 clove garlic

200 ml (a bit less than a cup) passata (tomato puree)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

mashed potatoes, for serving

Preparation

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Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic is golden on all sides. Do not allow the garlic to burn, because that will produce an unpleasant bitter flavor.

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Add the passata (tomato puree), olives, parsley, and oregano, and cook for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened somewhat.

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Add the slices of beef and coat them with the sauce on all sides.

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Cover and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.

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Turn the slices and cook, uncovered, for a few minutes more. The meat should just be cooked through and still juicy.

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Serve the beef slices on warm plates with the sauce and mashed potatoes.

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23 thoughts on “Carne alla Pizzaiola

  1. I read the following on Kyle Phillips blog years ago: “It’s so humble and so simple it has no history — nobody knows who invented it or when, though the name suggests its cradle may have been a pizza oven, and its father the pizzaiolo. But does it matter? Let’s just enjoy it as it deserves (Caròla Francesconi, La Cucina Napoletana, p. 433).”
    INGREDIENTS:
    • 2 pounds (900 g) veal scallops
    • 1 pound (450 g) drained canned, or fresh tomatoes
    • Oregano
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • Salt & pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    PREPARATION:
    Clean the slices of meat, trimming away gristle and nicking the membranes. Lay them out in a large skillet, salt them lightly, and cover them with the tomatoes (quartered if fresh, halved if canned). Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and cook over a moderate flame for about an hour, checking every now and then and adding a little more liquid if things are drying out.

    Ms. Francesconi goes on to observe that “the wine is optional, but adds flavor. The sauce should be thick and shiny, and is excellent over pasta, though in this case you should use more tomatoes.”

    As a variation, she suggests you begin by sautéing the garlic in the oil; when it is golden remove and discard it, and fry the cutlets, arranging them on a platter when they’re done. Next, cook the tomatoes and the other ingredients in the skillet to make the sauce, adding the wine last, and when it has evaporated, return the meat to the pan to heat it through. Serve, with a nice white wine such as a Fiano, or a fruity red.

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    1. The fillet steak I would definitely brown first. Might be nice to brown the fillet, take it from the pan, deglaze with red wine, add other sauce ingredients to heat them up, then put meat and sauce in a ziploc bag and seal with water displacement method, and cook sous-vide for 1-2 hours (depending on thickness of steak) to 130 degrees (54.5C). Serve just like that, no resting, sprinkled with parsley perhaps 🙂

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    1. The meat is so thin that it could be overcooked easily. Frying it first would add more flavor though, and I’m sure that even though the recipes I found don’t fry first, it is done by Italian cooks.

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  2. Thinking back to the last few times I had/made this I too have to admit the memory brings back differing recipes. Quite frankly did not remember that the meat was cooked without browning: but that fact would make it very mcu a ‘now’ dish for me . . .

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  3. good with almost any kind of meat I’d say 🙂

    BTW … I have always understood ‘Alla Pizzaiola’ to mean ‘in the style of the pizza-maker’s wife’… as opposed to Pizzaiolo, being the old pizza maker himself. I guess maybe she used his leftover sauce?

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    1. You are correct that’s what it means literally. I’ve now added a comment about that to the post, thanks for pointing it out 🙂 I like your theory of leftover pizza sauce.

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  4. Nice post, Stefan. I, too, find it interesting the meat is not seared first but being so thin it would almost certainly overcook. I am also intrigued by the sous vide possibility.

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