George Bernard Show
famous and typical Argentinean recipe
is a difficult meat cut to get, as not all butchers know how to make the
necessary and delicate cuts. Matambre is one of the muscles on the surface of
the abdomen; it's underneath the skin of the belly. In the US, given where they
cut the meat, it is almost impossible to get.
We include the image of the cut named Flank Steak, so you have an idea of
the cut. To make it, at home we would clean the meat very well of fat and then
season it with whatever you like: salt
and pepper, oregano, sweet chili powder, etc. Separately you mix several
vegetables: carrots grated or chopped, onion and chopped garlic. You put this
mixture on top of the matambre, plus four or five hardboiled eggs, salt, sweet
chili powder. You roll it from the side of the eggs, and tie it together with
butcher’s twine. You cook in water during 11/2 hours, where you can put some
vegetables to make it taste better. Let it cool underneath some weights, the
most common thing is to put it in a big tray, and put on top of it a cutting
board and a big cooking book on top of that. This dish is normally served cold, which makes for much easer
slicing and serving.
Stuffed Flank Steak Criollo
means “kill hunger” in Spanish
-. Lay the “matambre” on top a table with the fat side
downwards. Salt the surface and spread on top the mixture of stale bread, garlic
and parsley, grated carrots, red pepper strips, sweet chili red pepper, oregano
and place the eggs on the large side. From this, roll carefully the matambre
along the grains into a thick long cylinder. Tie it with butcher’s twine at
one-inch intervals. Place the rolled flank steak in a large steel casserole. Add
enough fresh water to come a third of the way up the roll. Boil during an hour
and half or until the meat is tender.
Remove the matambre and press it under weights, then refrigerate thoroughly and serve slices of 1/3 inch with the classic “ensalada rusa”, tomatoes salad, et cetera…
Without any doubt, no Argentine dishes have been more talked about than the
asados. This happens because local custom knows no limits whenever ready to
prepare an asado, or an open charcoal fire grill.
The best tender cuts of selected beef are used for the most asados, as
well as a wide variety of entrails and other tidbits. The beef usually goes on
the grill with no previous preparation at all; purists omit even a slight
sprinkling with salt. Seasonings add to the asado only after it is ready
and on the plate, not before.
The technique rather relates to the mechanic of the preparation of the fire and
other elements than to the getting ready and the cooking of the meats
themselves. That is, the care takes to see that the embers are glowing, giving
off an even heat without flare-ups so that the several meats will evenly cooked
on both sides. In the Argentine, the general run of the people prefers all
grilled meats well cooked and at the same time very juicy. Beef or other meats,
done rare or half cooked are not liked and most people reject them. On the other
hand, entrails and other variety of meats are very much enjoyed as part of the
and considered an indispensable part of it. These are also well cooked to a
juicy tenderness, crisply browned on the outside.
For a few cuts of meat, beef as well as pork, which is always very well done,
marinating is a common practice, especially if the cuts are not the tender and
flavorful ones, steeping them in a vinegar and brine solution, with spices and
herbs, is the usual way to tenderize and give them an additional flavor. This
practice may take from just a few minutes, before the meats are placed on the
grill, upon to an overnight soaking. In the case of some game meat, this soaking
may take even up to several days.
The usual proportions for an Argentine style asado are not difficult to
set: a generous half a kilo of diverse meats allowable per person, if a large
group is to be entertained. For a small group of people the usual meat allowance
is more difficult to establish, for the preferences of the host must take into
account. A somewhat larger proportion than that indicated for the large group
will not be out of place, considering that in a small group people will tend to
consume a little more of everything.
According to a widespread custom, a homemade open fire grill, or “parrillada”, will do in three stages.
All grilled meats are served immediately after being taken off the fire. With
asado, several kinds of salad may be served: Usually a green salad, as well
as a cooked one, plenty of bread, relishes and sauce, among which the
“chimichurri” figures prominently.
The “chimichurri” is always a homemade sauce, reflects the host’s preference. It
may, or it may be not hot. Any asado will end with a dessert of fresh
fruits, prepared as a macedonia-salad or not.
Roasts on a Spit
if the original asado was a roast on a spit, made around a large fire in
the open country to cook a freshly killed animal, which was consumed on the spot
right away, this is no longer the way to prepare it. The open fire spit roast is
prepared for very special occasions. Great and important asados require
large amount of all kind of meats, needs specialized personnel to attend to a
large number of people.
Roasts o a Grill
is the most popular of all preparation for family gathering. Weekends are the
proper time for the usual homemade parrillada or the open fire roast on a
grill. It requires two essential elements: a large grill or parrilla with
plenty of glowing embers under it and a large amount of all kinds of meats fit
for grilling. The usual apportionment runs to a half a kilo of diverse meats per
fire is also an all-important ingredient: it should be ready to cook the meats
when embers are glowing, without traces of smoke, covered with a slight film of
the fire is ready, the parrilla or grill goes over the fire, so that it
can be cleaned of all greases and grit after it has been heated through. To
clean it, just rub vigorously with some strong paper or dry cloth. Then, grease
its surface slightly with some of the fat trimmings, either beef or pork, and
when very hot it is ready. Now, place on it the several meats to be grilled, the
embers at a suitable distance underneath.
all the meats are placed over the fire at the same time. Chorizos and black
sausages should go on the grill first of all, not only because they’ll take
some more time to be ready, but also because they’ll be served before anything
else. Entrails or variety meats will follow, if any, and finally the larger cuts
or steaks and churrascos.
a large cut of beef is being grilled, one of those that will take a log time to
cook, the chorizos will go on the parrilla later so as to be ready before
the larger cut is cooked.
instance, in the case of an asado of an entire open lamb, which would
normally take about three hours to be ready, the chorizos will go on the grill
only when some forty minutes left for the lamb to do.
are rather thin beefsteaks, tender and without any bones, grilled on a parrilla
or on a hot griddle in just a few minutes. Then usually take no seasoning before
cooking. Salt and pepper only when the churrasco is on the plate.
cooking prefers them on the small side; of average weight under hundred grams,
to quickly done and one or two, perhaps even more, are prepared per person. When
cooked on a hot iron plate or griddle, this is slightly greased to prevent
sticking. Green salads and fried a mashed potatoes, with any preferred relishes
are served with churrascos.
cooking calls them “bifes” and prefers them quickly done over a big fire, so
that they will be served with their full natural juicy. Thin or thick, the time
they will take to be ready depends on taste. Longer cooking tends to dry them.
Steaks will be grilled completely, no cuts being made to cook them in a short
time. To tell them apart from churrascos, consider that bifes are
usually thicker, may include bones in the cut, are of tender cuts of beef and
will take a bit longer to cook. Tender cuts are seasoned after cooking.
Flavorful cuts will just take salt and a little pepper, when the bife
is already on the plate.
technique to season bifes is to proceed along the following points:
yet another alternative procedure to avoid unwanted drying up of the “bife”
while grilling calls for oiling lightly, no salt added, and perhaps a hint of an
aromatic herb. Steaks, as well as churrascos, are also cooked in a hot
griddle plate or iron, lightly greased with a little animal or vegetable fat.
Short Ribs Roast
Short ribs are the most popular cut of beef for the asado a la parrilla, or open fire grill. Usually cut in strips of some 10 centimeter wide, and separated in lengths of about 40 centimeter average, it is mostly known as asado de tira or short ribs in strips. It is a rather rich cut, flavorful, easily prepared and quick to be cooked. Argentines never consume freshly butchered beef. However, aged beef is not sought after. The preferred beef is the one that has been butchered sometime before the last 24 hours.
The procedure is very simple. Once the embers are ready, the short ribs strips are placed on a sizzling hot grill, with the bones resting on the grill to receive first all the heat. After the bone side has turned a good brown color, time will depend on the thickness of the bones, the strips are turned over and the meat side is then cooked.
brine solution is always sprinkled over the cooked parts, with he help of a
fresh sprig of parsley, and that is all. No further seasoning is required while
cooking. Should the ribs come from a young animal, and so are tender with just a
little fat, quick cooking over a brisk fire without any previous seasoning would
be the experts’ suggestion. Season the asado on the plate with any of
uncooked sauces such as chimichurri, hot or not, or adding simply salt.
Grilled Chorizos and Black Sausages
In Argentina chorizos are prepared with a ground meat mainly, pork fat, sometimes with an addition of beef, with mild condiment and encased in pork sausage skins. Spiced chorizos not commonly sold, are especially ordered. Spanish style chorizos colorados, may also be found.
All asados begin when the chorizos are ready. The usual count is of one per person, to serve together with black sausage, morcillas, which go, if small, at about half per person.
To prevent bursting of the chorizo skins, it is usually to soak them in fresh water, to wet the casings. Another method is to pierce the skins with the tines of a fork, to let the fat out and thus prevent the skins from crackling while on the grill. Chorizos are browed first over a brisk fire, then grilled over a low fire until done, crisp outside and mildly dry inside. Some people cook them the other way around, first over a low fire until almost done to finish them over a brisk fire until nicely browed. Since chorizos are made with mostly pork, or all pork meat, they should be always well done.
Black sausages or morcillas do not require any soaking or any piercing, before going over the fire. The usual way to grill them is to heat them over a low fire, to just warm them through and only heated with the outside crisped, while juicy inside, never dry. If placed over a brisk fire they will dry out soon and burst easily even while on the grill. Both chorizos and morcillas serve hot, just from the grill. Served cold, they also make excellent addition to a buffet or cocktail.
Pasqualino Marchese, diciembre 2006
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