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The Italian dish that food enthusiasts call “carne pizzaiola” doesn’t really have to do with pizza as it is known around the world. Where pizza is a dough crust covered with various toppings, carne pizzaiola is a cut of meat, cooked with tomatoes, peppers, and olive oil. These specific ingredients constitute the traditional “carne pizzaiola” or “carne alla pizzaiola” that authentic cooks may present to their audiences. The classic dish also includes the specific herbs oregano, thyme, and sometimes parsley.
The cuts of meat used to make carne pizzaiola vary according to tastes, and what is available. Most of the recipes use beef; some cooks may use chuck or sirloin with all fat removed. Others use thin strips of beef called ‘fettine’ that are often sold in Italian markets. In any case, the dish is cooked to blend the basic elements together, with various cooking times and techniques based on the meat that is used.
Although the carne pizzaiola dish is often cooked all together, some recipes may call for elements of the recipe to also be treated separately. Garlic is a prime ingredient in the classic dish. In many cases, the cook will first cut and sauté or roast the garlic, or brown it in the pan, before adding it to the mix. Similarly, the tomatoes may be skinned and boiled separately before adding them.
This classic Italian dish is often served with various kinds of pasta. These can include the wide, short penne or ziti, as well as spaghetti or other pastas. Other ingredients may also provide a garnish for carne pizzaiola including anchovies or olives.
Many of the essential elements of carne pizzaiola showcase basic flavor combinations that cooks all over the world consider characteristically Italian. For example, using garlic in a tomato sauce is part of many Italian dishes that have migrated around the world. The use of oregano along with salt and pepper is another classic Italian flavor. Another common technique often applied to this dish is to add a red wine and reduce it before adding it into the sauce.
Experts on Italian fare note that carne pizzaiola is part of a “Neopolitan” tradition. This is associated not only with the Italian city and province of Naples, but with traditions that date back to ancient eras that share a Greco-Roman connection. Looking at how these dishes embody a regional cuisine can inform an audience on both the enduring technique of a regional menu and its particular history or grounding in antiquated cultures.