Tag Archive: Red meat

Pork n’ chocolate

Bistecchine di Chinghiale

Buenos Aires Herald
On Sunday supplement
Food and Wine

We joke about the ubiquitousness of dulce de leche here, wondering when the first restaurant is going to offer up a steak or innards with some sort of caramel sweet sauce preparation. But we often don’t think about how much we use sweet ingredients in our own cooking, wherever we may be from. Sometimes it’s fruit, sometimes it’s honey or sugar. It might be a sweet and sour or sweet and spicy sauce – but the Argentines wouldn’t be the first to cross that line in the sugar sand.

Even in my own culinary background the use of chocolate and/or cocoa is not unheard of. A touch of powdered cocoa in pasta, especially with a game or mushroom dish, is not uncommon in Italian cooking. On the American Jewish side we’ve got our version of the classic German pumpernickel, chock-ful of cocoa and molasses to give it that dark, rich color and hint of sweetness and bitterness all in one. South of our border our Mexican neighbors have been adding cocoa or chocolate to dishes for eons, the most famous being some of the varieties of moles on offer.

I have yet, however, to encounter an Argentine recipe making use of either cocoa or chocolate in a savory dish. That’s not to say they don’t exist and I’m up for hearing about them, I just haven’t encountered them. But I could see a bit of either being added to a classic regional stew like a locro or carbonada. Some experimentation is in order, no doubt.

With the New Year holiday coming up this week, I thought I’d trot out a favorite holiday dish from the Sardinian repertoire. Bistecchine di Cinghiale – Wild Boar Steaks in a Sweet-Sour Sauce – is one that goes back to antiquity, in the days when it was its own kingdom. Okay, not really, since cocoa beans weren’t introduced to Europe until well past that period, but it goes back awhile, like maybe the mid-19th century. Now, not all of us have a source of wild boar – jabaliacute; – here, and since I rarely find it, or when I do it’s prohibitively expensive, I make this dish with thick steaks cut from the bondiola – the pork shoulder (or on the American side, called the pork butt). The flavour’s not as intense, nor, obviously, gamey, but it’s delicious nonetheless.

Bistecchine di Cinghiale – Wild Boar Steaks in a Sweet-Sour Sauce

1 kg boar steaks (pork shoulder steaks can be substituted)
6 tablespoons olive oil
250 gm bacon, finely chopped\
salt
4 tablespoons sugar
4 bay leaves
300 ml red wine vinegar
100 gm yellow raisins, seedless if available
100 gm pitted prunes or apricots
100 gm dark chocolate, grated
pinch of cinnamon and/or nutmeg
4 teaspoons flour

Saute the bacon in oil over low heat. Brown the steaks in the olive oil on both sides, sprinkle with the salt and leave to cook gently for 15 minutes.

In a saucepan put the sugar, bay, and 2/3 of the vinegar and cook, stirring, over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the fruit, chocolate and spice and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the flour with the remaining vinegar and pour over the steaks, continue cooking 10 more minutes.

Add in the sauce and cook 10 minutes more, turning regularly to keep the steaks well coated. Serves four as a main course.

I recommend serving the dish with a side of gnocchi or, if you want to get more authentic, you could, perhaps, find the classic Sardinian malloreddus pasta – though unlikely, I’ve not seen it here, however, I do see cassareccia pasta here which is pretty similar and will work just fine.

A series of recipes and articles that I started writing for the Buenos Aires Herald Sunday supplement, Food & Wine section, at the beginning of 2012. My original proposal to them was to take local favorite dishes and classics and lighten them up for modern day sensibilities. We’re not talking spa or diet recipes, but at the very least, making them healthier in content, particularly salt, fat and portion size. As time went by, that morphed into a recipe column that, while emphasizing food that is relatively “good for you”, wasn’t necessarily focused on local cuisine. At the beginning of 2013 I decided to stop writing for them over some administrative issues, but it was fun while it lasted.

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Get your kare on

Chicken Katsu Curry

Buenos Aires Herald
On Sunday supplement
Food and Wine

When most of us think about curry, we think India and southeast Asia, we don’t immediately think, Japan. And when we think Japan, we think sushi and tempura, we don’t immediately think, curry. But interestingly enough, curry has a history in Japan albeit not a long and involved one – dating back just to the late 1800s when it was introduced by the British during their Indian administration years.

Since that time it has developed into a uniquely Japanese style, definitely milder than the more typical southern continental styles, and making use of different ingredients. At the same time, Indian style curry has become popular, and the original “Western style” curry continues apace. It’s reached the point where many Japanese consider curry, or karē to be a national dish.

Like many curries it’s typically served over rice, though ladling it over thick udon noodles is also popular. The meat and vegetable are typically cooked separately either breadcrumb coated and fried or tempura style, while the curry is cooked as a sauce that is then added to the dish after cooking the other elements separately.

One of our home favorites is katsu curry, one of the most traditional of the Japanese styled versions, and it’s a dish that I’ve not seen on Japanese menus here in town, so it’s a treat to whip it up and enjoy. After all, one of the biggest complaints among the expat community here is the lack of range in Asian dishes available here. Let’s add one to your repertoire!

Although I’m going to give you the recipe for our usual version, with chicken, the exact same recipe can be used substituting in another meat – thick slices of pork or beef, fish fillets, or just vegetables, particularly eggplant slices, all work really well.

Chicken Katsu Curry

4 chicken breasts, cut in 2 cm wide strips
flour
1 egg
breadcrumbs (panko if you have them available)
100 ml olive oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion
3 carrots
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon curry powder (as hot as you like)
1 teaspoon garam masala (spice mixture available in many dieteticas)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
500 ml chicken stock (or vegetable, fish, etc. – match the main ingredient!)
1 bay leaf
salt to taste

2 green onions

Grate the onion, garlic and two of the carrots. Thinly slice the remaining carrot and set it aside. Over low heat, cook the grated vegetables in the oil until they’re very soft. Add the flour and continue to cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes to cook out the “raw” flavor of the flour. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and raise the heat. Bring it up to a simmer, turn the heat back down and cook until thick, stirring regularly. Add salt to taste – probably, given the soy sauce, it will need no more than about a half teaspoon. At this point, you can either leave it as is or puree it completely in a blender – either works – remove the bay leaf if you’re going to puree it.

Separately, cook the thinly sliced carrot that you set aside in boiling salted water until the carrots are just softened. Drain and add to the sauce.

Set-up three bowls, one with some flour, one with the egg, beaten with a splash of water, and one with the breadcrumbs. Dip the chicken pieces first in the flour to lightly coat them, then into the egg, let the excess drip off back into the bowl, and then toss in the breadcrumbs to coat well. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil until quite hot and then fry the coated chicken pieces until golden brown on all sides.

Serve over white rice (or noodles, or whatever strikes your fancy) with a ladleful of the sauce atop. Sprinkle with chopped green onions.

A series of recipes and articles that I started writing for the Buenos Aires Herald Sunday supplement, Food & Wine section, at the beginning of 2012. My original proposal to them was to take local favorite dishes and classics and lighten them up for modern day sensibilities. We’re not talking spa or diet recipes, but at the very least, making them healthier in content, particularly salt, fat and portion size. As time went by, that morphed into a recipe column that, while emphasizing food that is relatively “good for you”, wasn’t necessarily focused on local cuisine. At the beginning of 2013 I decided to stop writing for them over some administrative issues, but it was fun while it lasted.

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Hopping down the bunny trail

Rabbit pepperoncino

Buenos Aires Herald
On Sunday supplement
Food and Wine

Tastes like chicken. You know that’s not true, everyone says that to try to get you to eat something different in the lighter meat category. I’ve taken to telling people it tastes like cuy, or guinea pig, a delectable treat throughout the lands of our neighbors to the northwest in Peru. It kind of gets the point across. When it comes down to it, rabbit tastes like, well, rabbit.

With spring firmly arrived, rainstorms and all, the annual season of blackouts already beginning (last year our part of Recoleta got to 19 of them, ranging between 2 hours and 3 days, this week we launched in with a 2-1/2 day stretch already), we’re cooking with gas, on the grill, and by flashlight (for lighting purposes, not cooking, a decidedly ineffective method I’m sure). It’s rabbit cooking time.

If you’ve never cooked with rabbit, the thing to know is that it’s really, really lean. It’s probably got a BMI that would make Kate Moss seem rubenesque. As such, you need to consider a couple of things – adding fat to the dish, and cooking time. The latter has to be either very quickly – usually for the rabbit loin section, or long and slow, for the other joints. I generally find that the best bet is a braise or low heat saute that goes long enough to tenderize the meat.

One of my favorite dishes is based on a Piemontese classic – Coniglio Con la Peperonata. For those of you just not up to trying rabbit (but really, give it a try, it’s delicious), this dish can be made with chicken – it won’t be the same, rabbit and chicken really don’t taste alike, though they’re both mild, but it will still be a tasty dish.

Rabbit with Sweet Peppers

1 1-kg rabbit
60 gm smoked bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves stripped from the stalk
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 fresh bay leaves
250 ml chicken broth
salt and pepper

Cut the rabbit in serving pieces – usually that means cutting six pieces – cut across the body at the front and back of the loin and rib section, then cut each of the three sections in half down the middle. Saute the bacon and rosemary in a mix of the butter and olive oil, then add the rabbit pieces and cook until browned. Add the bay leaves and stock, salt and pepper to taste, and let simmer over low heat for 35 minutes, turning the pieces occasionally. Move to a serving platter.

While the rabbit is simmering:

3 red or yellow bell peppers or a mix
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 oil-packed anchovies
2 cloves garlic, chopped
handful of parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Warm the butter with the anchovies and stir until they dissolve. Add the peppers and raise the heat and cook until they’re starting to get limp. Add the garlic, parsley, and vinegar and cook until the vinegar has just evaporated. Season to taste. Pour over the rabbit pieces.

Now, although there are six serving pieces here, a one kilogram rabbit divided six ways, after factoring out the bones, isn’t a whole lot, so I generally recommend figuring on two pieces per person, though that obviously depends on what else you’re serving for dinner. Or, perhaps a light lunch, where one piece may well be enough.

What to drink with this? In Piemonte we’d be downing a bottle of Barbera or a lighter Nebbiolo with it. Neither is common here – the only Nebbiolo I know of produced in Argentina is the excellent one from Familia Cecchin of Maipú, if you can lay your hands on a bottle. There are a few Barberas around, and several blended with other grapes, a perennial favorite is from Famila Adrover in Lujan de Cuyo. Or, a lighter Bonarda, there are many to choose from.

A series of recipes and articles that I started writing for the Buenos Aires Herald Sunday supplement, Food & Wine section, at the beginning of 2012. My original proposal to them was to take local favorite dishes and classics and lighten them up for modern day sensibilities. We’re not talking spa or diet recipes, but at the very least, making them healthier in content, particularly salt, fat and portion size. As time went by, that morphed into a recipe column that, while emphasizing food that is relatively “good for you”, wasn’t necessarily focused on local cuisine. At the beginning of 2013 I decided to stop writing for them over some administrative issues, but it was fun while it lasted.

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Like lambs in clover

Grilled lamb salad with pesto

Buenos Aires Herald
On Sunday supplement
Food and Wine

Now that warm weather, maybe even hot weather, has established a firm footing for the year here in BA it’s time to start thinking about lighter dishes that fit that springtime atmosphere. Just two weeks ago I was writing about slow braised lamb shoulder and here I’m about to write about lamb again. After all, I promised in that column that I’d share a recipe for a delicious little spring lamb salad.

Actually, the original recipe more often features leg of kid, or goat, than lamb, but both work beautifully and certainly the leg of lamb is easier to find here. And, goat is a leaner, healthier meat for you, so if you can find it, I highly recommend using it for this dish.

Now I’m not going to claim full credit for this. In Sicilian tradition there’s a classic goat and almond stew called capretto con le mandorle or capretto alle mandorle – “goat with/and almonds”. A few years back New York chef Mario Batali decided to lighten it up and come up with a barbecued goat dish that featured some of the same flavors, but serve it up as a room temperature or just slightly warm salad for summertime. My version is based on his, though he goes the route of slow cooking the whole leg of goat or lamb off to the side of the grill, with indirect heat and slicing it afterwards. And some adjustments in ingredients that I like better.

I do recommend getting yourself in the mood by heading over to YouTube and searching out Jack Strachey’s Lambs in Clover – you’ll be ready to head right to the grill, or stove-top, and start cooking this up. Promise.

Grilled Goat (or Lamb) Salad

Meat:

1 kg leg of goat or lamb (without bone), sliced into serving pieces
1 bunch of mint
2 sprigs of rosemary
6 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons each of coarse salt and cracked black pepper
150 ml olive oil

Blend all ingredients except the meat together to form a smooth paste. Coat the slices of meat in it and leave to marinate for at least two hours – even better if you can leave it overnight.

Fire up your grill or your stove-top bifera or cast iron griddle and get it nice and hot. Cook the meat to your preference – personally I recommend medium rare to medium, no more than that – just be careful not to take it to the point where it gets tough.

Salad:

2 lemons
2 oranges (preferably navel oranges)
75 ml olive oil
1 tablespoon each of salt and cracked black pepper
2 bunches of arugula, washed and shaken dry

Slice the citrus fruits very thinly, remove the seeds, and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Let sit for an hour. Just before you’re ready to serve, toss these on the grill or griddle and let them get just a little bit of charring on all sides.

Spread the arugula out on a serving platter and top with the citrus slices and the pieces of goat or lamb. The dish can be served while the meat is still hot, or left to sit and let the juices commingle, and serve it warm or room temperature.

Pesto:

150 grams almonds (whole or slivered), toasted
20-25 green olives, pitted
1 fresh hot chili
juice of one orange
60 ml olive oil

Blend all pesto ingredients until nice and smooth. Serve dollops over the top of the meat. Feel free to adjust the spiciness with either an extra chili, or if you want less, remove the seeds from the chili already noted.

If I may, I’m going to also recommend a wine with this dish – a fantastic match with a well chilled Syrah/Shiraz or Tempranillo rosado. If you must go full on red, stick with the same grapes but give the wine just a short period chill, maybe 30 minutes in the refrigerator, before serving. Enjoy your spring picnic!

A series of recipes and articles that I started writing for the Buenos Aires Herald Sunday supplement, Food & Wine section, at the beginning of 2012. My original proposal to them was to take local favorite dishes and classics and lighten them up for modern day sensibilities. We’re not talking spa or diet recipes, but at the very least, making them healthier in content, particularly salt, fat and portion size. As time went by, that morphed into a recipe column that, while emphasizing food that is relatively “good for you”, wasn’t necessarily focused on local cuisine. At the beginning of 2013 I decided to stop writing for them over some administrative issues, but it was fun while it lasted.

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We’re on the lamb

Garrón

Buenos Aires Herald
On Sunday supplement
Food and Wine

Spring has sprung, more or less, the temperature is doing the montaña rusa and the rains they be a falling. Yeah, that’s spring here in BA. One day it’s t-shirt and shorts, the next it’s sweaters and umbrellas. One day it’s ceviche on the patio, the next it’s a bowl of hearty, steaming stew.

In the kitchen, spring is all about bunnies and lambs. Or maybe that’s some sort of proverb. All I know is that once summer rolls around, it’s rare that I’m going a rustic dish of lamb, though, perhaps as the weather warms we’ll come back around to it with a delicious summer dish of thin slices with green olive tapenade, all over a citrus and arugula salad. Remind me about that down the line.

Let’s talk a little bit about sheep. There are a variety of different terms, depending on what part of the English speaking world you’re from. The three most basic are lamb, hogget and mutton, in that order – which are defined by their teeth. Yes, I know, you thought it had something to do with age, and, in some places it may. Or may not. Classically, a lamb has yet to have any “permanent incisors”, in other words, the tooth fairy has yet to visit. A hogget has, at most, two visits from said winged pixie, and a mutton has had more than two.

But, for example, in my home country of the U.S., by law, all of them are called lamb, or at least when they’re served on a plate. It doesn’t mean no one ever serves up a “mutton chop”… chefs are such mavericks. And even among the lambs there is variation – milk-fed lamb, lechon, is unweaned, less than 8 weeks old, and weighs in under 8 kilos; while spring lamb is 3-5 months old, and, not surprisingly, has to have been born in spring.

All too confusing and far less interesting than simply cooking one up, no? This week we’re going to look at a slow cooked lamb dish inspired by a traditional braise from our neighbors to the west in Chile, where typically it’s a way of using the garrón or antebrazo, or, the “forearms” that otherwise tend to end up tossed into stockpots for making broth. In our version, we’re using lamb shoulder, or paleta de cordero, though this will work with lamb leg as well.

Slow Braised Lamb Shoulder

1 kilo of lamb shoulder (weight without bone, so roughly a 2.5 kg shoulder)
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon merkén (a Chilean dried pepper, if not available, use hot paprika – pimentón picante)
250 ml white wine
200 ml carton tomato puree
2 sprigs of rosemary
1.5 liters stock (lamb, beef, vegetable – from “cubes” is fine)
20 ml olive oil
salt and pepper
A choice here – you can have your butcher cut the shoulder into serving pieces if you like, or you can simply remove all the meat from the bones and cook this dish without them. You’ll get a richer braise with the bones in the pot, but, you’ll need a bigger pot.

Heat the oil in a stew pot big enough to hold all the lamb pieces. Brown the lamb pieces on all sides and then set them aside in a bowl for the moment. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook until lightly browned. Add the tomato puree and chili and cook for 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the wine and cook for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

Add the lamb pieces back in and top off with the stock – just enough to reach the same level as the lamb. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to a minimum, cover the pot and let it cook for about 2½ to 3 hours, until the lamb is completely tender.

Ladle out about 500 ml of the stock into a separate small pan, preferably a wider one, and place it over high heat – we’re just going to evaporate and concentrate the liquid down to become a rich sauce. When it’s the consistency of a nice gravy, reduced by about 2/3, season it to taste.

While the folks on the other side of the mountain typically serve their braised lamb with either potato or squash purees, much the same side dishes we see here, our favorite is to serve it up with a puré rustico of cauliflower – simply simmering the florets from a medium sized head of cauliflower in salted water until soft and then blending it in blender or food processor with a clove of garlic, a handful of chives, a small tomato, and oft-times, a slice or two of cooked bacon, salt and pepper to taste of course. Add some green vegetable if you like – quickly sauteed green beans are a family fave.

A series of recipes and articles that I started writing for the Buenos Aires Herald Sunday supplement, Food & Wine section, at the beginning of 2012. My original proposal to them was to take local favorite dishes and classics and lighten them up for modern day sensibilities. We’re not talking spa or diet recipes, but at the very least, making them healthier in content, particularly salt, fat and portion size. As time went by, that morphed into a recipe column that, while emphasizing food that is relatively “good for you”, wasn’t necessarily focused on local cuisine. At the beginning of 2013 I decided to stop writing for them over some administrative issues, but it was fun while it lasted.

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Lunch steak

Umbrian veal scallops

Buenos Aires Herald
On Sunday supplement
Food and Wine

This last week I was listening to an NPR broadcast online, an interview with Eugene Gagliardi, the inventor of the Steak-Umm (and other “convenience foods”), that pale imitation of a lunch steak. It got me thinking – a couple of years ago, here in Argentina, the local Heritage Commission declared a new range of food items that were considered “emblematic” of porteño culture. Those of us who live here in our adopted country have become used to offbeat claims in casual conversation by many a local that one plate or another is Argentine in origin. Often, these dishes are ones that anyone who travels the globe or explores the world of food knows existed elsewhere in the world long before Argentina had anything but a native, indigenous cuisine. But this wasn’t some guy at the local kiosk, this was an official government announcement.

The one that generated the most controversy at the time among my circle of friends was the milanesa a la napolitana, that ubiquitous local version of a weiner schnitzel topped with ham, cheese, and a bit of tomato sauce. Much of the controversy came from the juxtaposition of “milanesa” (from Milan) and “napolitana” (from Naples). The milanesa part is easy, pounded thin, breaded and fried slices of beef or veal are called cotoletta alla milanesa in Italy, or, a “Milan style cutlet”, and have been since before the first Italian set foot on South American soil.

While the name “a la Napolitana” is both claimed locally to come from the idea of Neapolitan pizza or from a restaurant called El Napolitano that existed in the 1940s over by Luna Park; most likely this is a simple renaming of the classic Neapolitan saltimbocca alla Sorrentina – pounded thin, floured or breaded, fried slices of veal topped with Parma ham, mozzarella, and a fresh tomato sauce. The dish has been around since long before anyone from Sorrento headed to Argentina. Who knows, maybe that’s where the owners of El Napolitano were from?

One can even look at things like schnitzel “cordon bleu”, a dish dating back to some unknown time in the history of L’Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit, the organization of knights famed for their luxurious banquets since 1578… this dish a breaded cutlet topped with a thin slice of ham and melted cheese – only missing that bit of tomato sauce.

But regardless, it’s a favorite lunch, there are even restaurants dedicated to nothing but differing versions of the milanesa. And, while we may not fire up the grill just to make a casual meal, we’re quite happy to throw a couple of these lunch steaks into a pan and make our own version – generally without the breading and frying part, though trust me, we’re not going to stop you if that’s your preference. This version, a favorite here at home, is based on a traditional scallopini from Umbria.

Umbrian Veal Scallops

4 large veal scallops (milanesas de ternera)
5 cloves of garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1 small bunch basil
4 sprigs oregano
4 leaves of mint
1 sprig rosemary
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
2 salted anchovies
juice of 4 lemons
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Season the veal with salt and pepper and saute in olive oil. The remaining ingredients are pounded together in a mortar, or, in modern day, pulsed in a food processor or blender to form a sauce. Add the sauce to the pan and cook just enough to warm it. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve the veal slices with the sauce spooned over them, and a nice green salad on the side. Serves 4.

A series of recipes and articles that I started writing for the Buenos Aires Herald Sunday supplement, Food & Wine section, at the beginning of 2012. My original proposal to them was to take local favorite dishes and classics and lighten them up for modern day sensibilities. We’re not talking spa or diet recipes, but at the very least, making them healthier in content, particularly salt, fat and portion size. As time went by, that morphed into a recipe column that, while emphasizing food that is relatively “good for you”, wasn’t necessarily focused on local cuisine. At the beginning of 2013 I decided to stop writing for them over some administrative issues, but it was fun while it lasted.

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The best parrillas

Cuisine & Vins
November 2007, page 118

cuisine insider tips
The best parrillas

This was an editing disaster – The introduction and several paragraphs that left it with no continuity were left off of the article, and then several of the reviews from the previous column were repeated here – somebody was clearly doing some sort of cut and paste on the page and no one checked the results. I’ve just reproduced it as written.

Asado
Here in Buenos Aires, when it’s time to celebrate a grand occasion, it’s time for an asado, what we might call a backyard barbecue or a cookout… It’s not that anyone really needs an excuse for an asado, simply being Saturday or Sunday is quite sufficient. But make it a special day and it’s time to pull out all the stops – which basically means, tons of meat, smoking hot, right off the parrilla. I thought this column would be a good chance to introduce you all to some of the basics.

You probably don’t need an introduction to asado etiquette – it’s pretty much the same as any grilling session on any patio anywhere in the world. It’s a guy thing. Everyone stands around, drinking beer or cheap wine, giving advice to the guy who’s doing the grilling, while he ignores all suggestions and does it his way, like it or not. Sound familiar?

Parrillada
But what is different here is what’s coming off the grill, or parrilla. First off, there’s a whole lot of innards. I know, I know – but here in Argentina, the innards, or achuras, are an absolutely integral part of the day, and you probably should know what you’re getting yourself into. First, a couple of glands, because you’re going to see them everywhere – mollejas and riñones – sweetbreads and kidneys. The former, here, come in two varieties – “de cuello”, or from the neck, which means the thymus gland, and “de corazon”, or from the heart, which really isn’t from there, but further below – the pancreas. Creamy and soft on the inside, lightly crispy on the outside, these are a special treat for those willing to sample. Riñones, the kidneys, and if they’re prepared right they have a just slightly chewy texture beneath their grilled exterior, and a rich, pungent flavor.

The other biggie, and it’ll be offered up to you as a test of your willingness to participate, are chinchulines. These are the grilled small intestine – the best coming from a very young animal that has only been fed on milk, with the milk having curdled inside from heat and enzymes. Yeah, I can hear you saying “ewww”. Go ahead and try one anyone, I’m amazed how many people become converts once they try one.

Follow up the innards with the sausages – there are usually three offered up – chorizos, morcillas, and salchichas parrilladas – the first, a slightly spicy pork sausage, different from the Spanish or Portuguese chorizos that you may have encountered elsewhere, and every butcher shop here has its own recipe. Morcillas – black pudding, black sausage, boudin noir – blood sausage – you didn’t want to think about it, but that’s what it is, and it’s oh so good. The last, usually a thin, coiled sausage, a touch on the smoky side.

Then on to heaping platters of meat – and while every family has their own choices, some of the most common are the tira de asado, which are cross-cut ribs, entraña, which is a skirt steak, bife de lomo which is more or less a sirloin, bife de chorizo, similar to a t-bone or porterhouse, without the bone, cuadril and which is rump steak.


El Yugo - ojo de bife
Now, here’s the thing – if you’re really lucky, and you have friends here with a parrilla, you’ll probably get invited, to celebrate one thing or another. But even if not, you can, of course, sample these all at a good restaurant style parrilla – and to get the whole experience, order yourself… or more likely selves, since it’s a whole lot of food, a parrillada, or mixed grill. One of my favorite spots to recommend for the grand experience is El Yugo, Ayacucho 1629, 4806-2009, in the heart of Recoleta, where they serve it up on a tabletop grill to keep things hot and smoking, offer some of the best french fries in the city, especially the thin papas pais, and a salad bar on the side, just in case you need something green.


In October 2006, I started writing for this Spanish language magazine, covering their English language section for travellers. I wrote for them for about two years. The copy editor, apparently not fluent in English, used to put each paragraph in its own text box on a two column page, in what often seemed to be random order, making the thread of the column difficult to follow. I’ve restored the paragraphs to their original order.

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Offal: Chinchulines, Mollejas, Corazon and Other Delights…

What’s Up Buenos Aires
NEWS
March 10, 2006

Offal: Chinchulines, Mollejas, Corazon and Other Delights…

OffalIt’s a shame that the words offal and awful are virtual homonyms in the English language. It immediately gives some leverage to the folks who fall into the camp of “I wouldn’t touch a plate of that with your tongue if I was paid to do it”. Versus, of course, the camp that others fall into where the mere mention of one of these body parts is enough to cause Pavlovian salivation. Even in the Argentine culture (and the Italian culture from which many of their recipes derive) opinion, no, vehemence pro or con in regard to the “fifth quarter” as the Romans called it, abounds.

Most everyone has tried something like liver – whether calf, beef, duck, or chicken – in one guise or another. On the chicken front, gizzards and hearts are common enough; perhaps even a chicken foot or two. When it comes to other animals and other organs, there are certainly things like steak and kidney pie out there, but here comes the moment when the two camps divide and begin to wage war. “If I only had a heart… a brain… the nerve…” takes on a whole new meaning from its connotations in the land of Oz. Here, we want them seasoned, grilled, sauced, and served.

For those of us in the pro camp, variety meats are not just the spice of life, they are the pinnacle of its culinary possibilities. For those who have yet to try them, or are unfamiliar with what is available, this basic guide, more or less from one entrail to the other.

Chinchulines are the small intestines
Chotos are a strangely braided larger part of the small intestine
Corazón is the heart
Criadillas are testicles, or if it makes you feel better, prairie or Rocky Mountain oysters
Higado is your already probably familiar liver
Mollejas de corazón are sweetbreads from the lower regions, the pancreas
Mollejas de cuello are sweetbreads from the neck, or, the thymus glands
Mondongo is tripe
Pulmones are lungs
Riñones are kidneys
Seso is the brain
Tripa is the stomach (not tripe, as you might think)

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Salsa!

Outlet Radio Network
January 12, 2005

Salsa!

Visions of whirling women in bright colored skirts, men dancing their way across the floor, dressed to the nines. Not that kind.

Salsa is simply a Spanish word for sauce. Now, in our nortamericano daily parlance, we usually use it to denote a somewhat fiery red or green sauce for dipping tortilla chips into. Often we see it on restaurant menus to refer to some chopped blend of vegetables, fruits and spices that accompany a dish. But we keep going back to that dipping sauce in our minds.

For me, however, as a chef, I tend to think of salsas in terms of what a Mexican chef might call a salsa cruda. That is, a chopped blend of raw or barely cooked ingredients that is used as the sauce on a dish. And the couple of recipes I’m going to give you aren’t going to relate to Latin American cooking. They’re just a couple of my current favorites that I hope you’ll try out and enjoy!

I was reading my favorite cooking magazine, Australian Gourmet Traveller (one of the best written consumer food magazines out there, even if the vocabulary takes some getting used to), and came across a reference to a fascinating sounding veal dish. No recipe was provided, so I experimented and came up with this little gem that we all fell in love with.

Veal Scallops with Meyer Lemon Salsa
Serves 4

1½ pounds of thinly sliced veal scallopini
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large seedless cucumber
3 Meyer lemons (not regular lemons, Meyers are sweet lemons from Florida)
2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped fresh oregano
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Peel and dice the cucumber. Remove the peel from the lemons and carefully cut out the individual segments of the lemons, then cut each segment in half. Add the oregano and the extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let it sit for at least an hour.

Season the veal scallops with salt and pepper. Saute them in a mix of the butter and olive oil (or just use one of the new “butter flavored” olive oil spreads), until lightly browned. Serve topped with the salsa, which can be left room temperature or slightly warmed. If you’re not into veal, this salsa works just as well on thinly pounded chicken breasts, or even a sauteed slice of tempeh!

Beef Fillet with Radish Salsa
Serves 4

Okay, it sounds strange, but it is oh, so good!

4 beef fillets, each about 6 ounces
2-3 limes
1 bunch of icicle radishes (these are pure white and sort of long and skinny radishes)
a dozen or so fresh mint leaves
2 serrano peppers
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Peel the limes and coarsely chop the peel. Mix the peel, the juice of the limes, and a bit of salt and pepper to make a marinade. Rub the beef all over with this and let it stand in the refrigerator, occasionally turning it to recoat, for at least 2 hours.

In a food processor, pulse the radishes (greens removed), the serranos (seeds and stems removed), and the mint leaves, until you have a coarse mixture. Add olive oil, and the salt and pepper to taste, and let sit for at least an hour.

In a very hot pan, sear the beef fillets on both sides, and then put the whole pan into a hot (500°F) oven. Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes depending on how done you like your beef. You can always stick the pan back in if you check a fillet and it isn’t done enough.

I like to serve this one by slicing the fillets and fanning them out on the plate and then topping with the salsa.

For the non-beef folk, try this one with portabello mushroom caps, just don’t over cook the caps in the oven, five minutes is usually plenty of time.


I started writing food & wine columns for the Outlet Radio Network, an online radio station in December 2003. They went out of business in June 2005.

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How to Throw an Inexpensive Dinner Party

Q San Francisco
January 2002
Pages 40-41

How to Throw an Inexpensive Dinner Party

dinnerpartywinesOne of the newest (or is it oldest?) trends is a return to “comfort foods”. Sometimes you just need to say au revoir to tuna tartare in sea urchin vinaigrette, ciao to beet carpaccio and preserved sicilian lemons, and adios to scallop ceviche with blood orange salsa. A simple “mac & cheese”, a perfectly charred porterhouse, a golden brown roasted chicken are where your tastebuds want to head.

The nicest thing about this latest trend is its ease on the budget. I no longer have to decide between having a half dozen friends over for a meal and redecorating the living room. I can say “no” to $100 a pound matsutakes and “yes” to $1 a pound white buttons mushrooms. Not only that, but when I serve them, it’s trendy!

The challenge, of course, is to go cheap without sacrificing quality. It’s easy to be innovative when you have an unlimited selection of the finest ingredients. It’s a whole new level of creativity when you work with a shoestring budget. The necessary simplicity requires a commitment to absolute freshness and excellence. However, this doesn’t mean giving up on flavor and variety. In fact, it requires a dedicated selectivity to come up with inexpensive ingredients peppered with a couple of just the right extras. Set yourself a budget for dinner, and head out in search of those special ingredients that will contribute to making your dinner party a smashing, and financial, success.

Good Ole’ New-Fashioned Pork Chop Dinner

Serves 6

1 head of romaine lettuce
1 head of butter or bibb lettuce
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Crush the garlic and nuts together until you have a paste. Add the seasonings and olive oil and mix together well. Slowly add the vinegar, making sure to whisk it in thoroughly. This will make a fairly “chunky” dressing. If you prefer smooth, or are just in a hurry, blend all ingredients (except the two lettuces) together in a blender until you get your consistency. Just before serving, toss the lettuces with the dressing.

Main Course:

6 nice sized, thick cut pork chops
1 bottle of pear nectar, juice or cider
6 bay leaves, preferably fresh
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the pork in it, in the refrigerator, for two to four hours

In a large frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and quickly brown the chops on both sides. Pour the marinade over the chops, reduce heat, cover and simmer until chops are cooked medium. Remove the chops, set aside, and turn up the heat. Reduce the marinade until it forms a thick sauce. Season with more salt & pepper to taste, remove the bay leaves and pour over chops on serving platter.

Vegetable:

1 pound broccoli di rape
2 medium sized pears
3 tablespoons of butter
salt & pepper

Meanwhile… Dice the pears and chop the broccoli di rape. Saute the pears in the remaining two tablespoons of butter until softened (but not mushy). Add the broccoli di rape and quickly saute until cooked through. Adjust the seasoning and serve on the side of the pork chops.

Potatoes:

2 pounds small potatoes (fingerlings are great here, but not necessary)
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 quart chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper

Put potatoes and garlic in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until done. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Mash the potatoes, garlic and oil together, adding back a little cooking liquid if needed to get a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Add to your serving platter.

I managed this dinner for just over $40. At $7 a person, how can you not enjoy?


Recently, virtually every major wine magazine has done a feature on “Value Wines”. Why should I buck this trend? Here’s a selection of favorite Californians that ought to be available for under $12 a bottle and all work well with this dinner!

Whites:

Niebaum Coppola “Bianco”, 2000
Thomas Fogarty Gewurztraminer, 2000
Pine Ridge “Chenin Blanc-Viognier”, 2000
Lions Peak Viognier, 1999
Wild Horse Malvasia Bianca, 2000
Sanford Sauvignon Blanc, 1999

Reds:

Four Vines “Old Vine Cuvee” Zinfandel, 1997
Rancho Zabaco “Heritage Vines” Zinfandel, 1999
Peachy Canyon “Incredible Red”, 1999
Monteviña Barbera, 1997
Heron Syrah, 1999
Liberty School Syrah, 1999


Q San Francisco magazine premiered in late 1995 as a ultra-slick, ultra-hip gay lifestyle magazine targeted primarily for the San Francisco community. It was launched by my friends Don Tuthill and Robert Adams, respectively the publisher and editor-in-chief, who had owned and run Genre magazine for several years prior. They asked me to come along as the food and wine geek, umm, editor, for this venture as well. In order to devote their time to Passport magazine, their newest venture, they ceased publication of QSF in early 2003.

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