I have always prepared this dish by making a zippy pizzaiola sauce, quickly sautéing beef or pork scaloppine, and then turning the sautéed meat around in the sauce. So I was surprised to come upon a recipe in Jeanne Carola Francesconi’s encyclopedic La cucina napoletana in which she talks about “reclaiming” this dish. She lists two methods of preparation. One is as I remember it, with the pizzaiola sauce prepared separately and the meat sautéed and then reheated in the sauce. The second method is slow and savory: thick slices of top sirloin steak are topped with tomato, oregano, and garlic, and then simmered in a littler wine and olive oil until the tomatoes break down to form a sauce and the meat becomes tender. Serve the tender meat with mashed potatoes and “Sitting Down” Broccoflower.
Arrange the beef slices in a single layer in a large sauté pan, making sure they lie flat (or use 2 pans, if necessary). Top each slice with some tomato pieces, a sprinkle of oregano, some garlic, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper, and the chile pepper flakes, if using. Add the wine and olive oil to the pan, cover, place over low heat, bring to a simmer, and cook until the meat is tender and the sauce reduced, about 1½ hours.
Transfer the meat slices to a warmed platter. If the sauce seems too thin, reduce it a bit over high heat. Spoon the sauce over the meat, then serve.
The obvious wine choice is an Aglianico from Campania. Some labels will say Taurasi, rather than the name of the grape. Among the most reliable producers are Mastroberardino, Feudi San Gregorio, Villa Matilde, Antonio Caggiano, and Maffini.
© 2004 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.