Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sovereign State #7 Argentina

Entraña Asado con Chimichurri (Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri)
Puré de Patatas con Ajo (Garlic Mashed Potatoes)
Pizza Argentina con Jamón y Aceitunas Verdes (Pizza with Pancetta and Castellino Olives)
Pizza Argentina Margherita (Pizza with Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Basil)

Argentina is an interesting amalgam of European cultures. Like an adopted child, it knows that it's biological parents are of Spanish descent but it has been raised in German and Italian foster homes for most of it's life so Argentina has taken on a German, Italian sort of attitude. "Yeah sure, I'll eat my empanadas but you better serve some spaghetti and grilled sausages with it." Pretty much the red meat capitol of the world, and with the amount of cow that they eat I'm surprised these nice people aren't dropping like flies from heart attacks.

Grilled meat is pretty much the holy grail of Argentinean cuisine. Being an apartment dweller I had to use my trusty grill pan to achieve a lovely "pho-grill" seared steak. I grilled a beautiful skirt steak that I first marinated for an hour or two in some olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic, and rosemary. I turned a burner up to medium high and grilled the steak about 2 minutes each side until perfectly medium rare. Then I let it rest for 5 minutes. Always let your meat rest after cooking. Never cut into your meat right after cooking. Resting helps the the juices redistribute and seals in all the moisture. I wish I could use a charcoal grill to get that nice smokey flavor only an outdoor grill can provide but alas, here I am in my lovely little kitchen. Perhaps next summer I'll build a little window ledge and put a grill on it. As long as it doesn't drop three stories and take someone's head off or burn the building down, I think it'll work. Don't you? Is that a fire hazard? I'll just put it right next to my indoor smoker that has a rigged exhaust pipe that goes directly into my annoying neighbors apartment. Okay, okay don't get all ready to call the fire marshal on me. I'm just kidding, my little grill pan works just fine. So anyways, the condiment of choice in Argentina is chimichurri. A tasty salsa minus the tomatoes. It's basically, parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and sherry vinegar thrown in a blender (salt and pepper tt). I love the acidity it brings to the melty fattiness of the meat. I served the skirt steak and chimichurri with garlic mashed potatoes and a little basic green salad. The next day I made steak sandwiches with my go to cheese Beechers Flagship and a little chimichurri mayo. Served up with my favorite salt and pepper chips. I could eat that skirt steak for every meal it was so good. Such basic, clean flavors. No need to muck it up with a bunch of nonsense.

Argentineans love pizza. You heard me right, they love Italian food. So much so that they pretty much eat pasta and pizza every second of every day. Seriously. Okay maybe not that much but Italian cuisine has definitely crept into the homes of these South American peoples to the point of having something covered in tomato sauce and cheese on nearly every menu. Pizza and Argentina go together like junkies and crack rock, ya know. They love the stuff. Maybe even more than Americans. Argentina is said to have the best Italian food outside of Italy, and who am I to argue? I've only had American Italian food so as far as I'm concerned, it's probably true. So the day after steak-fest 09 I decided to truly represent Argentina I had to make pizza. I made one with pancetta, pitted, green castellino olives, and fresh mozzarella and one with black krin heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, roasted goat-horn peppers, and fresh mozzarella. The dough was a little sticky but the result was a super crusty, chewy crust. I cranked my oven to 525 degrees (as high as it goes) for about an hour and cooked the pies for about 8-10 minutes, turning them once for even cooking. The results were definitely awesome. Best pizzas I ever made. I used Elise's dough recipe from Simply Recipes and it worked out really well. I used my quick tomato sauce recipe and it added just the right flavor. So stinkin' good. I just a ate a slice cold for breakfast. Yum.

1 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sherry wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

Puree all ingredients in blender or processor. Eat with steak or fish.

Quick Pizza Sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
a few fresh basil leaves
kosher slat and fresh cracked black pepper tt

In an unheated sauce pan add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Turn the heat up to low and cook for a minute or two until the garlic becomes fragrant. Meanwhile in a food processor, add the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and pulse it a few times. Add the tomatoes to the pan and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes and then remove from the heat. Top a pizza with it or whatever else you can think of.


For more info on this project, read this: 203 Sovereign States


Nicole said...

It all looks so good. Can you fedex me some food?

Violet said...

Will do. ;)