Hey guys, here’s a little Christmas present to close out the year! I’m sorry I’ve been absent the past few months life has been busy!
Argentina was our next travel destination- home of marveling landscapes, mouth-watering meats, and tantalizing tangos! The name of this large South American country translates from the Latin word argentum to silver due to the land’s plentiful minerals. Pictured above is the well-known Patagonia, a true adventurers dream which is a region found at the southern most tip of South America (also part of Chile). The Andes divides the two countries and makes the landscape more extreme. Found in rural areas you can find traditional gauchos. Gauchos are Argentinian cowboys that like American cowboys have distinctive dress which includes wool ponchos and sombrero or bolero hats. These cowboys are known for their bravery and skill with livestock. Speaking of livestock.. lets talk about the traditional Argentinian fare!
Argentinian cuisine has heavy European influence (Spain, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries) and consists of meats (mostly beef), grains, fruits, and vegetables. With agriculture being a substantial part of the country’s culture beef and other livestock products are found in much of their cuisine. On the 29th of every month you can find many Argentinians eating gnocchi with money under their plate. This easy to make meal is thought to bring good luck and fortune in the following month.
The meal I decided to prepare is called matambre or stuffed flank steak which literally translates to “hunger killer” so I think this will leave you satisfied. Traditionally to make this dish you will use flank steak or a butterflied thicker steak which you cover in a chimichurri sauce which contains cilantro, parsley, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Other versions of this dish can include carrots instead of peppers, its up to you! Next, place then add a layer of bell peppers and hard boiled egg before rolling and securing the meat with twine or unflavored floss. The preferred method of completing the dish involves grilling the meat until it reaches the desired doneness of your liking. This recipe for matambre can be found here.
Due to the time of year and our grill being finicky I cooked it in the oven at 400 degrees. This recipe was pretty easy to follow and used common ingredients. I typically have twine on hand which works well to contain the meat and maintain a somewhat uniformed meat roll. Make sure to not be stingy with the chimichurri sauce as this pairs well with the meat.
This dish made me obsessed with chimichurri sauce- I didn’t even know I was missing out! If you wanted to be “extra” you could totally do this as a breakfast meal, but the steak sits a little to heavy for me. Unfortunately, the meat cut I had used was a bit tough in areas and due to its thickness took longer than anticipated to cook. All the elements rolled up well together and brought a solid dinner to the table. We rated Argentina’s dish 7.25/10.
For day 3 we made moqueca, a seafood stew that is traditionally cooked in a terracotta casserole dish. With its Brazilian origin you understandably find lime, garlic, and cilantro to season the dish up. You serve this stew with a side of white rice and garish with a lime wedge and fresh herbs. Typically a fish component accompanies the shrimp, but the fish I bought went bad (although the date was good).. not cool Hannaford! If moqueca entices you, you can find the recipe here.
It was important to allow the shrimp to sit in the lime/ginger marinade for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. This was another great weeknight meal that took little time and mostly was a “sit and wait” method. I was able to utilize the shrimp shells to make fish stock while they were marinating.. I highly recommend this to save money. Just throw it in the freezer and you’re good for another seafood chowder or stew!
Oh man this was great. This super creamy and warming broth paired well with the shrimp and veggies. Also a new enjoyable combination of basil and cilantro was discovered. There was nothing bland about this stew (which seems to be an issue 50% of the time) and we felt it was a new refreshing way to enjoy shrimp (no fish was needed). We thought it was deserving of a 9/10.
Hello from the isthmus that connects South and Central America- Panama! This country gives you the unique opportunity to watch the sunrise over the Pacific and sunset over the Atlantic. Panama City the capital of Panama (pictured below) is the only city in the world that has a rain forest within city limits. The famous Panama canal generates one third of the countries economy and roughly 14,000 ships travel through each year. The toll each ship pays is dependent on their size, the larger ships paying almost half a million dollars- ouch!
Typical cuisine in Panama is comprised of African, Native American, and Spanish methods. Due to the location of Panama it has access to several varieties of produce, yucca (cassava root) and plantains being the most commonly used.
Today we made a traditional soup filled with various veggies and chicken. Sancocho is a common Latin soup that is full of native flavors and was fairly easy to make. It contained yucca which was a new food for us to try. Yucca is very starchy and has a thick skin that is best peeled off similar to if you were preparing a plantain. Depending on where you are this recipe could vary. It is also said this soup can cure hangovers.. we have not tested this theory, but maybe you could let us know if it is true? 😉
Like most soups once you had the ingredients prepped it just needed time to cook and allow for the flavors to merge together. We loved the use of cilantro in the soup and like many other meals felt it brightened it up. The yucca and plantain were alike in flavor, closely resembling russet potatoes, however yucca had a slight squash-like similarity while the plantain had a mild sweetness. We thought there wasn’t enough balance between the starchy foods and other ingredients and decided to rate it 6.5/10.
Next, we visit a country I have never heard of before over and recently gained its independence in 1999. Tune in tomorrow to find out how it went!