Sigh for me, Argentina

Cooking some of the country's fare is easier than you might think, thanks to three delicious recipes from an authentic source

Last month, Argentinian chef Matias Aldasoro served up a selection of grilled meats, salads, side dishes and desserts to the Ambassador of Argentina Ana Maria Ramirez and a select group of guests.

Chef Matias Aldasoro.

It was an immersion in an authentic meal from South America. Empanadas dipped in olive oil served as appetiser, along with olives, breads and cheeses. The prime beef, goat, chorizo and lamb were coupled with fresh sauces _ chimichurri; pesto of sun dried tomato, pistachio and garlic; and criolla (salsa), full of capsicum and onion. Potato- and corn-based dishes provided some weight, and an array of salads _ rocket and watercress; Parma ham with goat's cheese and rocket; courgette and aubergine with mozzarella; potato, egg, corn and ciboulet (chives); beetroot, carrot and egg; cherry tomato, boconcinos and fresh basil _ provided a healthy balance. Desserts including alfajor (biscuit sandwiches), arroz con leche (rice pudding), cheese and quince rounded off the meal.

Aldasoro, from Casa del Visitante, Bodega Familia Zuccardi's restaurant in Mendoza, Argentina, has a wide range of cooking and training experience at five-star restaurants and hotels in Argentina and internationally. Despite the illustrious company at the Rembrandt Hotel's Da Vinci restaurant, it was more of a family-style dinner.

Aldasoro shares with Brunch readers the recipes to three of his most popular dishes. Grill or pan-fry your choice of red meat to accompany the chimichurri sauce, cook the empanadas to serve as starters or mains, and add the alfajor as dessert. If you wish, include a salad and baked potatoes and you have everything you need to recreate an authentic and delicious Argentinian meal at home.

CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

METHOD

Boil the water with the salt, add the rest of the ingredients and let macerate for 24 hours.


ALFAJOR

INGREDIENTS:

METHOD

Blend butter at room temperature with sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and rum. Add eggs one by one and add both dry ingredients until the dough is smooth. Refrigerate in plastic wrap for about four hours. Then roll it and cut circles of the same diameter as a soft drink tin and bake them in the oven at 180C for about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Thickly spread one biscuit with the dulce de leche, and place another on top. Roll in the desicated coconut.


ARGENTINIAN MEAT EMPANADAS

INGREDIENTS

(To make 50)

For the pastry

METHOD

For the dip, mix the ingredients and set aside. To make the pastry, put the dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix the butter and fat into the flour. Add the water and mix until it just comes together and can be formed easily into a ball. Wrap well in clingfilm  and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Fry the onion in hot oil until cooked, lower the heat and add minced meat, when cooked add the hardboiled eggs and the spices (pepper, paprika and oregano).

Remove the pastry from the fridge, and roll out to a thickness of around 3mm. Cut circles from the pastry using a 12cm pastry cutter (or a saucer).

Place two teaspoons of the filling on one half of each pastry circle. Wet the edges of the pastry with a little water and  fold the non-filled half of the pastry over the filled half. Crimp the edges together to seal.

Place the empanadas on a baking tray, and bake at 200C for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

About the author

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Writer: Ezra Kyrill Erker
Position: Writer