More specifically, the dishes here are very typical of the central region of Argentina, from Buenos Aires across to the Cuyo region. In the north and south of the country there are a few fundamentally different dishes found on the table. The cuisine of Argentina in general is heavily influenced by its Spanish and Italian ancestry. But the dishes resembling their European counterparts have been transformed in one way or another into traditionally Argentine creations.
I have skipped the parrillas here... grilled meats are very popular in Argentina, and the keys to a truly Argentine parrilla are to avoid seasoning the meat prior to grilling, to make sure the embers are glowing evenly to ensure even heating, and to choose meats that will maintain their juiciness even when well done (as the Argentines like to serve them). I have also skipped the everpresent pizzas and pastas. The recipes below are other dishes I especially liked during my Argentine adventures.
Puchero con chorizos y repollo. (Chorizo and cabbage pot)
There are many versions of the puchero throughout Argentina. The heritage of this dish is traceable to Spain, where a type of chickpea-based stew (cocido) bears the same name. In the area of the Rio de la Plata, the lack of chickpeas necessitates the use of another ingredient; as beef is quite the local favorite, it serves as a substitute.
This recipe will serve 4.
2 pieces of beef shank (marrow included)
2 pounds beef for boiling
½ pound bacon
4 chorizo sausages
1 sprig parsley
garlic (slightly bruised) to taste… typically 2 or 3 cloves
3 medium or 4 small peeled potatoes
4 small carrots, peeled
2 medium onions
1 2 to 2½ pound cabbage, cut in quarters
1 sprig oregano
salt and pepper to taste
You will need 2 pots for this preparation. In one, put beef bones, beef, half the bacon, half the garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper; cover with water. Simmer for at least an hour. After an hour, put in the second pot the chorizo, the rest of the bacon and garlic, and the cabbage and cover with water; boil gently until the cabbage is done. When the second pot reaches a boil add the rest of the vegetables to the beef pot and cook until the potatoes are done.
Make some rice with the broth from the beef pot. This is used to make the soup, which is served separately from the meats. Serve the soup as a starter, followed by separate dishes of meats and vegetables. Pair this with a lighter wine like Altos las Hormigas’ Bonarda, or Argento’s Malbec.
Empanadas de carne al horno. (Baked meat empanadas)
Empanadas in general origínate in Galicia and Portugal, where they resemble more of a meat pie cut into sections. Of course in that region of the world some of the most popular fillings are codfish and tuna, whereas in Argentina a beef filling is preferred. Empanadas can be served as an appetizer or as a main course.
3 cups flour
1 cup shortening or pork lard
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp water
salt to taste
Mix shortening or lard with flour and add the egg. This will form a dough after a bit of kneading and gradual adding of water and salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.
1 pound lean ground beef
½ cup butter or lard
1 cup scallions, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
½ tsp oregano, cumin, and paprika, respectively
1tbsp seedless raisins
2 tbsp chopped green olives
2 or 3 chopped hard boiled eggs
salt and pepper to taste
Boil a small pot of water. Pour boiling water over ground beef in a bowl while stirring; let stand until beef changes color. Discard water (or save as broth). Heat butter in a skillet and fry scallions until they turn bright green. Add tomatoes, pepper, garlic, parsley, and spices. Sauté for a few minutes. Remove from heat and add raisins, olives, and eggs. When the mixture cools add the ground beef and mix well.
Roll out the dough into rounds. Place a few heaping spoonfuls of the mixture on half of the round; fold dough over and seal with fingers. Bake in a hot oven until browned.
Pair these with a sparkling wine such as Bodegas Chandon’s Rosé or Finca Flichman’s Extra Brut.
Carne adobada al horno. (Marinated beef roast)
4-5 pounds roasting beef
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp cornstarch
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp of one of the following: parsley, oregano, or rosemary
Rub the roast well with marinade, let stand overnight. Place in oven on medium heat in a roasting pan. About 30 minutes before it’s done, pour ½ cup wine over it. When it’s done, let the roast stand while you make a gravy from the pan juices and ½ cup red wine with cornstarch diluted in it. Boil the gravy for a few minutes and pour over the roast. Preferably, slice the roast at the table.
Serve this with a spicy, rich red wine, such as Finca Flichman’s Malbec Reserva or CarinaE’s Reverva Syrah.
Conejo al horno. (Roasted rabbit)
A very popular dish in the Cuyo region. This roasted rabbit is simple and delicious!
marinade, as in above recipe (bay leaves and thyme work well)
brine solution (strongly salted water with a bit of sugar added)
Rub the rabbit well with marinade and let stand overnight. Place in a roasting pan, and roast on medium heat until the meat begins to separate from the bones. Baste frequently with marinade diluted with ½ cup brine solution. Serve well done with a side of carrots and squash, and a light red such as Argento’s Bonarda or CarinaE’s Rosé.
Milanesas caseras especiales. (Breaded steaks)
The name for this simple dish comes from cotoletta alla milanese. Many different meats can be used, and different preparations can be done. This one is common:
8 thinly sliced steaks (not more than a pound in total)
2 tbsp oil
2 cups flour
3 or 4 eggs, beaten, with a pinch of salt, pepper, and oregano
Pound steaks flat. Rub with oil and a little salt and let stand for a few minutes. Dip in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs; fry in oil. Serve with lemon wedges and potatoes. Any fruity red wine will do, but this is also great with a buttery Chardonnay like Catena Zapata’s Angélica Zapata Chardonnay Alta.
Escabeche de pollo. (Chicken Escabeche)
This dish has an ancient relative by the name of al-sikbaj, originally a Persian word. It was brought to Spain via the Moors, and made its way to Argentina from there. Traditionally it uses fish, but now many versions such as the one below are made throughout the world.
1 small (3 pound max) chicken or game hen, cut in serving pieces
3 onions cut in rounds
3 red peppers, seeded and cut in strips
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 bruised garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp peppercorns, whole
1 cup olive oil
1 cup white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 cup dry white wine
salt to taste
Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with half the onion slices and half the red pepper. Place chicken pieces on top, then cover with the rest of the vegetables. Sprinkle bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt over all. Pour the oil, vinegar, and wine into the dish until all chicken pieces are covered. Bake covered for 2 hours on medium-low heat. Let stand 48 hours before serving.
This dish pairs perfectly with a light white wine like CarinaE’s Torrontes or Argento’s Pinot Grigio.
Dulce de Leche.
This filling for pastries and cakes needs no introduction. And it’s incredibly simple to prepare…
¼ gal milk
2 ½ cups sugar
1 vanilla bean
Boil milk and sugar with the vanilla vean and a Little baking soda until the milk begins to change color. Turn the heat down to low and stir frequently to avoid burning until the milk thickens. Some prefer to add a little cornstarch to speed up the thickening process, as it can take sometimes up to 2 hours.