Tag Archives: Stew

Na Serapia ****

 
 
(+54) 11-4801-5307
Av. Las Heras 3357
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo

If you choose not to embrace empanadas while living in South America, then you are severely limiting your convenience food options. They are the ultimate fast food and a perfect bite on the go–tiny, warm, cheap, and filling. There is a lot of debate amongst Argentine’s as to which region of the country prepares them best, but many purport that it is in fact the Northern region of Salta.

As a self-proclaimed empanada connoisseur, I deemed it necessary to sample this regional style of cooking and decide my own opinion on the matter. So I headed to a very old and authentic hole-in-the-wall place, located just 3 blocks from my apartment called Na Serapia. There is an antique charm about the tiny place that comes highly recommended by locals.

I started the meal with a couple of Chicken Empanadas, Spicy Beef Empanadas, and Saltena-style Empanadas ($5 pesos ea.).  Out of the three the chicken one was my favorite because of the flavor and moisture in the shredded meat. The spicy chile sauce (or oil, rather) that they serve to accompany the empanada is also very good…and rarely found in a country which loathes spicy food! Besides the fillings, the pastries themselves were delicious. They were light and flakey, almost like a puff pastry. They also had a nice buttery texture, as opposed to the thick doughy texture of some other place’s empanadas.

Next I ordered a Tamale to split with my friend Julie. For those of you unfamiliar with tamales, they are masa (a starchy corn dough) stuffed with ground beef, which is then steamed and served in corn leaf wrapper ($18 pesos ea.). I have to admit that although I came for the empanadas, I was much more impressed by the quality of the tamale. Actually, I thought it was the best that I have had to date. The sweet corn dough was a perfect contrast to the spicy chile oil that I spooned on top, and the meat was soft and tender. The whole thing crumbled beautifully when poked with the fork. You must try!!

As if this wasn’t already enough food, I then ordered a bowl Locro, which is a hearty stew of beans and pork with chorizo ($27 pesos) typical of the Northern region. I really enjoyed the soup, but still think that La Cocina serves the best in the city.

Overall, I was pleased with my meal and wowed by the tamale. I would definitely go back soon because I think it is a charming atmosphere with good service and a tasty food.

READ ANOTHER BLOGGER REVIEW – TheLostAsian

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Filed under Buenos Aires Restaurants, Cafe / Bistro, International Restaurants

{ Cuban Ropa Vieja }

The beef in Argentina is ri-freaking-diculous. Its tender, juicy, and requires nothing except a little salt and charcoal to taste divine (and this is coming from an au poirve/bernaise enthusiast) So why is it so much better, you ask? Because the the cows in Argentina roam about in pastures and feed on grass all day. Unlike the cattle in the US, which are kept in tiny pens, unable to move around, being force fed steroid-enhanced grain day in and day out. Of course thats not to say you can’t find grass fed beef in the US at all, but it’s usually that little package of meat in the Wholefood’s fridge thats like double the cost of all the others. You stare at it for like 10 minutes straight, debating whether or not it will really taste $15 dollars better than the other cuts of meat. Ahhh screw it, you’d rather get 2 for 1 drinks at happy hour with that money….back in the case it goes.

But in Argentina there is no meat grade hierarchy, it’s all good. You just have to decide which cut of meat is your favorite– a task that is easier said than done since they utilize a lot more of parts of the cow than we do in the US. Sometimes, I think they try to use too many parts…I found brain to the right of my filet mignon yesterday…ewe!

Anyways, while I am here, I am attempting to make every beef recipe that is in my pinterest “grub” file (aka my “to cook” list) because I know that it is going to be damn good. Recipe number one: Ropa Vieja….a little tribute to Casa Larios in Miami, which I happen miss more than anything.

Ropa vieja is shredded flank steak stewed in tomato sauce with peppers and onions, usually served over a bed of rice with black beans (and gobs of hot sauce in my case!). So fa, this dish has not made an appearance in Argentina, and so tonight I decided to cook it myself. The meat was very was to cook, although the shredding takes a little elbow work (I enlisted the help of my roommate since I had to shred 1.1 kilos!). And instead of serving this over plain white rice, I made a lime cilantro rice with corn, beans, and tomatoes. Top the dish with a little sliced avocado and some fresh green onions, and disfruta los sabores de Cuba!

{ Ingredients for Ropa Vieja }

  • 2 1/2 pounds flank steak (or 1.1 kilos of entraña if your in south america!)
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 onions, 1 diced for sauce and one halved for broth
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 hot pepper, diced
  • 2 cups of canned diced tomato and their juices
  • 1 cup beef broth (from cooking meat)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, as desired

{ To Make the Ropa Vieja }

Place the flank steak, the onion, the carrot, and the celery in a large stock pot and cover the contents with water.

Add some kosher salt to to the water and bring the water to a boil. Then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for an hour or two, until the meat is tender.

Remove the meat from the pot and allow to cool. Then using two forks, or your finger tips, shred the beef and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium high heat. Sautée the chopped onion, garlic, onions, and peppers until the onion is translucent. Add the cumin and cayenne pepper, stirring to combine. Add the tomatoes, beef broth, and kosher salt to desired taste (I also add a couple dashes of tobasco sauce, since I like my food spicy).

Add the shredded beef to the pan and continue cooking for another hour on a low heat. The consistency should be thicker than soup, more like a stew. Use tomato paste to thicken the sauce and extra beef broth to thin it out.


To serve Laddle the Ropa Vieja over plain white rice, or my cilantro lime rice, and top with sliced avocado. Or use the meat to make a delicious burrito filling, similar to a barbacoa.


**Remember: Ropa Vieja, like all soups and stews, develops more flavor the longer it sits. So this dish will taste better the following day, making it an ideal pre-made party food.

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Cumana *****

Rodríguez Pena 1149
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Recoleta
001 4813 9207

As I mentioned in the previous post, Ariana and I have become ¨regulars¨ at La Cholita–frequenting the restuarant at least once a week to get our parrilla fix. But we aren´t the only one´s in BA that know about the deals to be had there, so there is often times a wait to get in (get there after 10 O´clock, and you´re not leaving until 1 or 1:30…no, I´m not joking). Luckily, right next door is a resturant called Cumana. It is the same price point as La Cholita, and the food is equally as delicious, but the menu offers a completely different selection of Argentine cuisine. Rather than parrilla, Cumana serves up food typical of the Northern region of the country, including homemade cazuelas, pizzas, calzones, empanadas, and potato dishes. Most people show up with the intentions of eating at either La Cholita or Cumana, but inevitably put down their name for both once they see the crowds waiting outside. Pretty much, which ever restaurant can accomodate the party first wins. Nobody goes home upset!

Inside Cumana, you will find an equally mixed crowd of locals and tourists. The locals come becasue the prices are unbeatably cheap, and the tourists come to sample a wide variety of the delicious cazuelas, which are thick and hearty stews served in lerge clay vessels. They come out steaming hot, and they never seem to cool off…you will still be blowing on the last spoonful (if you can even manage to eat that much of these filling casseroles, of course!) Some of the cazuelas are simply legumes, others include meats such as chorizo and beef, and then of course there are those that offer a mixture of vegetable and meat. My favorite cazuela at Cumana is the one with Lentejas y Chorizo (lentils and sausage). The menu simply reads Cazuela de Lentejas, but the Chorizo is a delcious surprise that adds a nice smoky flavor to the dish. The lentils are cooked to a tender perfection and the meal overall is like a hug in your belly.

I also hear that the Cazuela al Pastor is incredible, although I have never gone to Cumana hungry enough to tackle the dish myself. The waiter described it almost like a Sheppard´s Pie, layered with hearty ground beef, mashed potatoes, and cheese. Again, this is all baked and served in a large clay pot (it is on my list of things to eat in the very near future!). When I don´t order the Cazuelas de Lentejas, I go for the Locro–a thick soup made with beans, potatoes, squash, ham, and chorizo. It is like Pasta Fagiole on steriods, and without a doubt a ¨stick to your ribs¨ kind of meal. Although the locro is very delicious at Cumana, I must be honest an admit that there is one better at La Cocina on the corner of Puerrydon and Santa Fe (the review is coming soon!).

If your craving more than soup, I highly, highly, highly, recommend the pizza and calzones at Cumama. There is some special ingredient that they use, which makes the flavor of the pizza very unique. I can´t figure out if it is an herb, or if it is special cheese, or what. I am a pretty good food detetctive when it comes to identifying ingredients, but they have me absolutely stumped. Normally, I would ask the waiter for the secret, but given the language barrier, I am left to wonder. I like the Rucola Pizza with Fresh Sliced Tomato, Cured Ham, Mozarella, Tomato Sauce, and Oregano. It is salty, gooey, goodness. The calzones are also enourmous and look amazing (definitely enough for two people to share).

If you´re looking to eat soemthing I little lighter, as I was the other night, it´s not gonna happen here. I ordered the Ensalada de Cumana thinking that the vegetables would be healthy, but the salad came out in an enourmous baked bread bowl, topped with gobbs of mayonnaise. All of my biggest ordering errors in Argentina have involved salad and salad dessings. The menu will often read; ¨vinaigrette a la casa,¨ ¨ceasar dressing, and ¨dressing especialidad.¨ But do not be fooled….these are just synonyms for disguising the word mayonnaise. And not a drizzle of mayonnaise, an overwhelming heaping of it (see photo below). The moral of the story; order your salad plain and ask for a side of oil and vinegar. Otherwise, you might as well have just ordered the fattiest steak on the menu. Of course, once I removed the top layer of mayo covered lettuce, the salad was delicious. But I hate having to operate on my food before it becomes edible.

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