Background to Argentine Food:
Argentina is famous for its steak and red wine. Yet this is a misnomer as most of the more tender cuts of meat like fillet and sirloin are shipped abroad to sustain the insatiable appetites of the United States and Europe, where it will also attract a higher price. Nevertheless the BBQ or “asado” as the locals know them is still one of the favourite meal choices for the Argentines. The asado is steeped in Gaucho tradition, on the plains of the Pampas where the cows are reared and cooked whole on metal spits which are supported over an open fire.
Today wood is still used to cook the meat, but a whole animal is generally saved for larger occasions. Instead “achuras” or offal takes center stage along with the more popular cheaper cuts of beef.
We were introduced to a Mendoza classic of the chicken small intestines whole stuffed with smooth pate, which provides a crispy outside and soft middle along side sweetbreads and kidneys!
Olives and eggs are also popular imports from the Spanish immigrants who settled in the 16th century and are used to fill empanadas.
Empanadas are pastries traditionally filled with beef, although there are various filling combinations depending on the region and country. These versatile and immensely tasty parcels have now taken over South America and are also found all over the world.
…where all of these fine recipes have been taken.
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Savory, family meals are generally prepared from family recipes handed down over generations, are eaten together as social occasions and make the cornerstone of Argentine tradition. However the Argentines also have a very sweet tooth, which is satisfied by dulche de leche (caramelised milk) and used in many different desserts and cakes, as well a spread for toast in the morning.