Fire up the parilla, open up the fernet and dig up that jar of dulce de leche, it's time to celebrate: Happy Independence Day, Argentina!
On July 9, 1816, the Congress of Tucuman declared independence for the United Provinces of South America, to this day one of the legal names of the Argentine Republic. To celebrate almost 200 years of history, heritage, culture, food, and drink, we're taking a bite out of some of Argentina's most iconic dishes. Read on for the the milanesa, the asado, chimichurri, empanadas, and Italian-influenced fare.
Empanadas are a source of national, local, and family pride in Argentina. Ask any Argentine and they will tell you that their empanadas are better than empanadas from any other country, and that empanadas from his town are better than the empanadas from any other town, and of course that his mother’s empanadas are better than anyone else’s mother’s empanadas. We had the pleasure of dining with the Zuccardi winemaking family in Argentina, and we can certainly vouch for their claim to make the best empanadas.
Skirt steak, commonly known by the generic name of churrasco, is a long, thin, and deeply flavorful strip of meat with well-defined open fibers cut from the diaphragm muscle of the cow, just below the ribs. Popularized by Argentinean and Hispanic Caribbean restaurants in the United States, it is by far the most requested cut of meat in any Latin restaurant today. Argentineans simply salt it and grill it and then lavishly smother it with chimichurri sauce at the table.
Milanesas are an Argentine classic and the best version or recipe can be as hotly debated as a soccer match. Usually served as a veal cutlet lightly breaded and fried, this recipe takes it one step further. A thin coating of tomato sauce over the crispy crust, melty cheese, and a sprinkling of oregano lends an Italian flavor to the dish for a tasty twist.
This is a classic South America sauce and marinade. Made with fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, and plenty of seasoning, chimichurri is a multitasker. Use it on various cuts of meat, such as flank steak or London broil, or as a dipping sauce to accompany them once they're grilled.
Look at polenta in a whole new way! Pair it with summer tomatoes and spicy chorizo for a textured and delicious dish.
The milanesa is arguably Argentina’s most popular dish. In this recipe, instead of using meat, marinated slices of eggplant are coated with breadcrumbs and baked until crisp with a generous coating of salty parmesan cheese.
If you love the crispy crunch of a milanesa but are trying eat more whole grains, Milanesa de Quinoa is the perfect choice. Instead of a traditional meat cutlet, these patties are made from superfood super star quinoa, meaty portobello mushrooms and a touch of sweet carrot. Pan fried or baked, they are sure to satisfy.
Meat or chicken milanesas are a favorite comfort food dish of Argentinian families. In this lighter vegetarian version, the milanesas are made with soy and whole wheat flour and filled with a creamy and vibrant avocado pesto, making them perfect for a meatless meal.
Though it may sound surprising, there is a large Jewish population in Argentina and they've left their mark on the cuisine. You can even find Jewish delis in Buenos Aires where you can order up classics, like these crispy potato pancakes, traditionally served during the holidays.
The volcan de chocolate is an Argentine classic, but no easy feat to perfect. To get the sponge cake cooked and the interior suitably oozy takes a masterful touch. Here, the dulce de leche heart replaces the classic molten chocolate center to make a sinfully sweet dessert.
Alfajores are little cookies from Latin America filled with the oh-so-delicious dulce de leche. The cookies resemble short bread in their sweetness and light texture. With a dusting of powdered sugar and an array of flavors to choose from, these little sandwich cookies are a taste of the sweet life.
Growing up, many of us spent time dunking our spoons into the communal jar of dulce de leche, and licking up the sticky, caramel-y goodness from between our fingers. Jars of dulce de leche are a great emergency item to keep in the pantry. In addition to being a traditional spoon candy, dulce de leche can become a cake topping, a layer in an ice cream sundae, a filling in an alfajor sandwich cookie, or a spread for homemade crepes.