Friday, January 2, 2009

new year's eve: north meets south

Don’t even ask me how it happened cause I have no idea myself.
All I know is that one day my mom said "I want to make matambre and empanadas for New Year’s Eve"
and I said "ok".
I was (extremely, ridiculously, super-duper) lucky to get new year’s eve off this year. I didn’t know how I felt about the partying, but the food? That’s always a good time with me.
And while I do love my greasy, gooey cheeseburgers and my soda and my whatever-else-that’s-"American", a good Argentinian meal is a great thing. It’s the food I grew up on and the food I still love to eat. And hell, I always will.
So, matambre. The rolled up meat thing I couldn’t stand when I was younger. It had eggs and olives and all sorts of things poking out of it that I just did not approve of.
The empanadas on the other hand, well, my mom is practically famous for those.
But I figured, I have to give this a try.
We bought a nice piece of flank stank and butterflied it open. Some sprinkles of Parmesan cheese and parsley, some sprinkling of breadcrumbs. A couple of hard-boiled eggs, some olives, and a handful of grated carrots. Rolled up into a big fat log, thrown into a pot of water and boiled for a good 1 ½ hours.
You make it the day ahead and let it cool completely overnight. And then, you slice it. And you serve it up with the best side dish ever: ensalada russa. Which is, you know, potato salad with peas. Duh.
And it was good. Much better than I remember it being when I was around 7, of course. It was a good slice of meat with all sorts of fixin’s just thrown in. And - even better - it makes a pretty yummy sandwich slathered with some mayo. Mmm mmm.
I’m a total mayo freak, I can’t help it.
(And yes, that means I have standards. And yes, that means I choose Helmann’s.)

But what about the famous empanadas? Oh, those were a hit, too. They always are even if things have changed a bit. The original recipe is with ground beef. And she would always fry them. Always.
These days, she's a health-conscious lady (and who isn't?) who enjoys her whole grains and soy milk and bee pollen and raw honey. So you can say that beef and deep-frying aren't part of the agenda much anymore. Instead, chicken. Or turkey. And baking, not frying.
And they're still irresistable.
Filled with white and green onions ("they both give a little something"), hard-boiled eggs and olives (yes, again), and white pepper (it makes a distinctive difference..), they are just as good as I remember them being when I was 7. The empanadas just don't change.

It was a dinner I couldn’t wait to sit down to enjoy. And enjoy it I did.
So ending one year with a good meal and starting a new one with a good meal...that’s gotta be a good thing, right?
Happy 2009 to everyone.

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