The Standout Cooking Method For Authentic Carne Alla Pizzaiola

There are few dishes more comforting to a southern Italian than a simple and saucy carne alla pizzaiola. Essentially meat cooked in tomato sauce, the Neapolitan dish is reminiscent of the city's famous marinara-laced pizzas. While sauce is an important aspect of the recipe, choosing a quality cut of meat to carry those rich flavors is paramount — as is properly cooking carne alla pizzaiola.

Although you could use any kind of meat from chicken cutlets to even pork chops, beef tends to be the protein of choice. The rump or thigh is a particularly good choice as it's lean, tender, and free of any bones. However, because carne alla pizzaiola is meant as a quick and easy meal to put together, it's also wise to seek out thinly cut slices that are roughly 1/4 of an inch for speedier cooking.

After tenderizing veal with a meat mallet to ensure uniform cooking, the best way to guarantee a melt-in-your-mouth cutlet is not to overcook the meat. While many recipes call for veal to simmer in the sauce for up to 30 minutes, it's best to use your own judgment as cook time can be reduced significantly based on the thinness of the slices. Not only will meat still be infused with flavor, but shorter cook times will also prevent the meat from becoming dry and tough.

Secrets to a better carne alla pizzaiola

In addition to keeping an eye on cook time, there are a handful of tips that'll up the authenticity of your rendition of carne alla pizzaiola, the first being working with excellent ingredients. Despite how tempting it can be to grab a jar of pre-made sauce and get cooking, refrain from doing so. Passata is your best bet if whole, peeled tomatoes or fresh tomatoes aren't available. With garlic and oregano as non-negotiables, you can still tailor the recipe to fit your preferences by adding in olives, capers, chopped eggs, or even topping with mozzarella.

As for the actual cooking process, there are two schools of thought — cook the meat first and then build the sauce, or simmer the sauce first and then add meat. Although those browned bits can add umami to the sauce if you opt to fry lightly breaded meat first with the intention of reading it to the sauce, many favor developing a good sauce before allowing the meat to braise in it for a super decadent and juicy result.

As a final word of advice, serving carne alla pizzaiola shouldn't be complicated. Though it can be great with a side of roasted potatoes, the best companion for the dish is bread. The ultimate way to mop up all of the bold and earthy flavors of the sauce, using the scarpetta method isn't just approved by the Tasting Table team, but also Neapolitan nonnas. Buon appetito!