I’m changing the format of my posts to just one post per country… it was getting too tedious to keep up with several posts for every country.
We were excited to move on to Argentina over the weekend! I read that Argentinians eats lots of beef, and the most traditional meal would be a big outdoor barbecue with multiple meat-based dishes. Although we had a “heat wave” with a high of 35°F the day we cooked, it got colder as the day went on… so we decided against grilling.
On the menu this week:
- Beef empandas
- Chimichurri sauce
- Aflajores (Dulce de Leche stuffed cookies)
The main course, and the most work, was the empandas.
We followed this recipe for the dough, and roughly followed it for the filling. I merged several recipes for the filling… so I modified quantities of some of the filling ingredients from this recipe, and I added raisins. I also omitted oregano and used red pepper flakes instead of chili powder (and a smaller quantity than 2 T to keep it from getting too spicy). The smoked paprika gave the filling a distinct red color.
I learned that the traditional way to seal the empandas shut is with the repulgue style seam. It wasn’t too hard to figure out, and I thought it looked pretty. Our filling to dough ratio was off, so I ended up with extra filling and with several over-stuffed empanadas (which had blowouts 😦 ). They were topped with a bit of egg yolk and went in the oven.
The next recipe is the chimichurri sauce, which seems to be the go-to condiment of Argentina. Consisting primarily of parsley, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar, it seemed like an Argentinian version of pesto. We blended these ingredients in the food processor and called it good!
The final combination of empanadas with chimichurri sauce was wonderful! This was another recipe that tested my limits of eating foods I don’t like (the empanada filling had olives, raisins, and hard boiled eggs… all of which are foods I avoid eating!), but I found that they were disguised by the rest of the flavors and textures enough that I didn’t notice them. I even enjoyed the occasional sweetness when I came across a raisin. We also cooked a steak in the oven, which obviously wasn’t the same as grilling, but it was very good with the chimichurri sauce.
Of course this was paired with a malbec from Argentina. 🙂
For dessert, we made alfajores (cookies filled with Dulce de Leche). Dulce de Leche, which is similar to caramel, came up frequently in my research of Argentina. I saw several references to this type of cookie which is stuffed with it, and we decided it would be the perfect dessert.
There are several methods for preparing Dulce de Leche, and we went with the cook-it-in-the-oven-method. We poured a can of sweetened, condensed milk in a pie pan, then sprinkled some Kosher salt on top, This was covered with aluminum foil and placed in an empty roasting pan. You fill the roasting pan with water (up to about the pie pan’s halfway point), then bake in the oven for an hour at 425°.
Stir it with a whisk halfway through (and refill water as needed), then whisk again at the end of the cooking time. This stuff was delicious, and I couldn’t wait to try it in cookie form.
The cookies are somewhere between sugar cookies and short bread cookies, and they have a bit of lemon zest to add a little lemon flavor. The dough was sticky and messy and to work with, but the cookies came out beautifully.
Once the cookies had a little time to cool (and trust me, they had plenty of time to cool by the time we cleaned up the full bottle of red wine that shattered just as we sat down to eat…), I put a spoonful of Dulce de Leche between two cookies, and then rolled the sides in grated coconut. These turned out beautifully, and I think they were an even bigger hit than the empanadas! This is another one of those dishes that I was surprised at how much I liked… I don’t usually like coconut, and I’m not wild about lemon or caramel in desserts either. But these were just melt-in-your mouth delicious!
All in all, I would call this our second 100% successful country to cook so far!
Next time, we are back across the ocean to Armenia!