Argentine Cuisine…Food Rhyme Time

August 29, 2014

image courtesy of http://www.flags.net

Argentina still has real legit cowboys. They are called Gauchos and they live in the Pampas or Patagonian grasslands. This is a good sign, because where there are cowboys…there are cows. Argentinians love beef, I mean who doesn’t, but they REALLY love beef. So it was a given that I should choose a dish with the starting role going to el carne.

The traditional technique would simply have been to grill or roast the meat over a flame, which frankly sounds wonderful. But that is really the only thing people know about Brazilian and Argentine food so I looked for something a little more unique. Empanadas may not seem to be at first, but each region and peoples have their own filling combinations. The name means simply “breaded” but the magic lies inside the beautifully golden shell. One such mélange from the silver state includes paprika and hard boiled egg. This was certainly a flavor combination that I’ve never encountered but worked so well.

My first time working with puff pastry was…a mixed bag. From years of watching cooking shows I knew it was not going to be easy to manipulate and it was not. Practice helped me improve and the second batch I baked came out much better. Even so, the recipe made a huge amount of filling and even if I had done the pastry part flawlessly, I can’t imagine all would have been used. That being said, it makes excellent leftover filler for tacos, burritos, or simply to mix with rice or pasta.

To go with the empanadas, I made a quick bread recipe for indigenous cheese rolls called “chipás”. These buns are distinctive because they made with tapioca flour from the cassava plant. This flour has a very fine texture and the resulting roll has almost a velvety nap to it. They are soft and chewy on the inside and took no time to make and bake.

Oh yea, it is also the closest country in the world to Antarctica. Next stop, Armenia.

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Argentine Meat Empanadas

Serves: 4

1/2 cup shortening

2 onions, chopped

1 pound lean ground beef

3 teaspoons Hungarian paprika (sweet if possible)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup raisins (optional)

1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped (optional)

2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

salt to taste

1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

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Directions:

    1. In a saute; pan melt the shortening and add the chopped onions. Cook the onions until just before they begin to turn golden. Remove from the heat and stir in the sweet paprika, hot paprika, crushed red pepper flakes and salt to taste.
    2. Spread the meat on a sieve and pour boiling water on it for partial cooking. Allow meat to cool. Place meat in a dish add salt to taste, cumin and vinegar. Mix and add the meat to the onion mixture. Mix well and place on a flat to dish to cool and harden.
    3. Cut puff pastry dough into 10 round shells. Place a spoonful of the meat mixture on each round; add some of the raisins, olives and hard boiled egg. Avoid reaching the edges of the pastry with the filling because its oiliness will prevent good sealing. Slightly wet the edge of the pastry, fold in two and stick edges together. The shape should resemble that of a half-moon. You should have a 2/3 to 1/2 inch flat edge of pastry to work with. Seal by twisting edge, step by step, between thumb and index finger, making sure to add pressure before releasing the pinch and moving on to the next curl. Other sealing procedures like pinching without curling or using a fork to seal will not prevent juice leaks during baking, and empanadas must be juicy.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place empanadas on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Be sure to prick each empanada with a fork near the curl to allow steam to escape during baking. Glaze with egg for shine and bake until golden, about 20 to 30 minutes.

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Chipas:

1 egg

2/3 cup milk

6 ounces shredded Italian cheese blend

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 3/4 cups tapioca starch

1 cup self-rising flour (super easy to make your own, google it)

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Oil a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Stir together egg, milk, cheese, and butter in a large bowl. Sprinkle in tapioca starch and flour; stir in to form a dough. Knead dough for two minutes on a lightly floured surface, then roll into golf ball-sized pieces, and place onto prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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