Empanadas de Carne (Beef Empanadas)

Empanadas, pastries stuffed with filling that range from meat or ham and cheese to spinach or tuna, are a staple for Argentines, as a heavy snack or light meal. This beef empanada recipe is courtesy of Fernando Alvez de Olivera, executive chef at New York City’s well-respected Argentine restaurant Novecento (www.bistronovecento.com), which also has locations in Miami, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Argentina and Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Ingredients:

Meat Filling

1-1/2 pounds beef (preferably round steak), cut up
1 pound ragú carne*
1 pound onion, washed and chopped into small squares
4 ounces chopped red pepper
4 ounces chopped green olives
1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
9 ounces tomato sauce
1 laurel leaf
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1/2 ounce salt
Cooking oil
1/2 ounce corn starch dissolved in water

*To make ragú de carne, cook one pound beef at a low temperature with chopped tomato and a chopped onion to bring out meat flavor. Reserve.

Dough for empanadas

1 pound wheat flour
2 cups of warm water
1 tablespoon of salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons of lard

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Spread the meat on a large baking pan and cook for 15 minutes. Remove meat and let drain in a colander.

In a large skillet, sauté onion, and transfer to a large pot over low flame. Add garlic, salt, and condiments until browned, and add all meat, red pepper, tomato sauce, and olives. Stir for five minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in water and add to mix.

In an aluminum bowl, mix all dough ingredients and kneed. Let dough sit for 20 minutes. On a table, roll the dough with a rolling pin until obtaining desired thickness. Divide dough with knife into medium size circles. Put two spoonfuls of the meat filling on each circle and close them. Bake at 350ºF (176ºC) or fry over moderate flame.

Servings: Serves four to six (approximately 16 empanadas).

Churrasco Rebosado (Filet Mignon in Egg Batter)

Argentines eat more red meat per capita than citizens of any other country in the world. The asado (a barbecue featuring various cuts of meat cooked slow on a hot-coal grill) is a weekend tradition for many families, but Argentines have a gift for preparing and cooking meat many ways. Churrasco Rebosado is an extremely rich dish that calls for light accompaniments such as a simple salad and rice. This recipe is excerpted from Argentina Cooks! by Shirley Lomax Brooks (Hippocrene Books). www.hippocrenebooks.com/book.aspx

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups sifted flour
4 egg yolks, beaten with a fork
1/2 cup milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried chili pepper
4 egg whites, beaten until stiff but not dry
8 beef filets or boneless sirloin steaks about 1/2 inch thick, trimmed of all fat
1 cup olive oil
Sweet paprika
Bunches of watercress or parsley for garnish

Directions:

Add flour to the beaten egg yolks all at once and continue to beat until smooth. Add milk to the mixture and stir in garlic, salt, pepper, marjoram, and chilies. Carefully fold in the beaten egg whites. Dip the steaks in the batter, coating well. Heat the oil in a skillet until it smokes. Fry the coated steaks in the hot oil for three to five minutes per side, depending upon how well done you like your meat. Remove to a heated platter, dust with a little paprika, and garnish with watercress.

Servings: Serves eight.

Duck Magret and Salad Criolla

This simple but elegant duck recipe comes from the chef at Thymus Restaurant (www.thymusrestaurant.com.ar) in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The recipe combines fresh ingredients, such as manioc and papaya, which are found in northern Argentina.

Ingredients:

Main Dish

4 duck breasts
1 medium size manioc or yuca
Salt and pepper

Papaya Salad

1 small papaya or mango
1 small red onion
1 medium green chile pepper
1 lime (rind and juice)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground chile
Fresh cilantro

Directions:

Begin by making the salad a few hours before serving. Cut the onion into very fine pieces and set aside. Peel the papaya or mango and cut into small cubes. Do the same with the chile, removing the seeds and white inside ribs. Mix ingredients in a bowl and add the lime rind and juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Wait three to four hours to allow all the flavors to mix.

Next, peel and cut the manioc or yuca into approximately 1-1/2-inch (4-centimeter) pieces. Cook in abundant water, boiling until cooked. Drain, cool, and put the pieces between two pieces of cellophane or wax paper. Smash with a rolling pin, until you have a 1/10-inch- (3-millimeter-) thick sheet. The manioc’s or yuca’s own consistency will help the sheet keep its form. Remove the paper and cut into rectangles. Brown a bit in skillet with some butter and salt and pepper.

Prepare the duck by making some cross-shaped cuts in the skin. Place the duck in a skillet skin-side down. Cook at low flame until the fat melts and the skin is crispy. Turn over and turn up the flame to brown the other side briefly. Move duck to the oven and broil for ten minutes. Cut duck into slices and serve atop the manioc layers with salad.

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