If you’re on the hunt for an authentic taste of Argentina, look no further than its rich culinary heritage. From juicy steaks to mouthwatering empanadas, the country offers a plethora of traditional dishes that will leave your taste buds yearning for more. Whether you’re a meat lover, a vegetarian, or have a sweet tooth, there is a must-try Argentinean dish waiting to tantalize your senses. Explore the vibrant flavors of this South American gem and discover a culinary journey like no other. Argentina is known for its vibrant and diverse cuisine, and there are several traditional dishes that you simply must try when visiting this beautiful country. From savory pastries to succulent grilled meats and indulgent desserts, Argentinean cuisine has something to offer for everyone. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular traditional dishes in Argentina, including empanadas, asado, matambre, choripán, milanesa, locro, dulce de leche, mate, provoleta, and tarta. So, get ready to embark on a culinary journey through Argentina!
What are empanadas?
Empanadas are savory pastries that are widely regarded as one of Argentina’s most famous culinary delights. These delicious hand-held treats are filled with a variety of ingredients, such as beef, chicken, ham and cheese, spinach and cheese, or even sweet fillings like dulce de leche. Empanadas are typically baked or fried to perfection, resulting in a crispy golden crust that encases a flavorful and moist filling. They are often enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or even as a main course, and can be found in almost every corner of Argentina.
The ingredients for empanadas can vary depending on the filling. For the dough, you will need flour, salt, lard or butter, and water. For the classic beef filling, you will need ground beef, onions, bell peppers, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and olives. If you prefer a chicken filling, you will need cooked and shredded chicken, onions, bell peppers, garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and olives. Other fillings may require different ingredients, so feel free to experiment and get creative!
To make the empanada dough, mix the flour and salt in a bowl, then add the lard or butter and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add water and knead until the dough comes together. Let it rest for about 30 minutes. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling by sautéing onions and bell peppers in oil until they are softened. Add the ground beef or shredded chicken, garlic, and spices, and cook until the meat is browned and the flavors are well combined. Cut the dough into small circles, spoon the filling onto one side, fold the dough over to form a semi-circle, and seal the edges by pressing them together with a fork. Bake or fry the empanadas until they are golden brown and crispy. Serve hot and enjoy!
What is asado?
Asado is the Argentinean equivalent of a barbecue, but it is so much more than just grilling meat. It is a social event, a celebration of food and tradition, and a way of life for many Argentinians. Asado involves slow-cooking various cuts of meat, primarily beef, over an open fire or charcoal grill. The meat is usually seasoned with salt and cooked to perfection, resulting in juicy and flavorful steaks, sausages, ribs, and more. Asado is often accompanied by chimichurri sauce, a tangy and herbaceous condiment that perfectly complements the smoky flavor of the grilled meat.
The beauty of asado lies in its simplicity. All you need is high-quality meat, salt, and fire. The most popular cuts of beef for asado include short ribs, flank steak, skirt steak, and chorizo sausages. It’s important to choose well-marbled cuts of meat for the best flavor and tenderness. Apart from the meat, you can also include other ingredients such as vegetables and cheese for grilling or side dishes like salads or grilled bread.
Preparing asado requires time and patience, as the meat needs to be cooked slowly over indirect heat to achieve the desired tenderness and flavor. Start by seasoning the meat generously with salt, allowing it to sit at room temperature for about an hour. Meanwhile, prepare the grill by arranging the charcoal or firewood in a way that allows for indirect heat. Once the fire is ready, place the meat on the grill and let it cook slowly, turning it occasionally to ensure even cooking. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the meat and your desired level of doneness. Once the meat is cooked to your liking, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Slice the meat against the grain and serve it with chimichurri sauce and your favorite side dishes. Enjoy this delicious and communal Argentinean tradition!
What is matambre?
Matambre is a traditional Argentinean dish that is made from a cut of beef called “matambre,” which translates to “hunger killer” in English. This dish is a popular choice for special occasions and family gatherings, as it is both delicious and visually impressive. Matambre is usually stuffed with a variety of ingredients, such as vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and herbs, before being rolled and cooked to perfection. The result is a flavorful and tender meat roll that is as beautiful to look at as it is to eat.
To make matambre, you will need a piece of beef matambre, vegetables such as bell peppers and carrots, hard-boiled eggs, garlic, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Feel free to customize the stuffing by adding other ingredients that you enjoy, such as cheese, spinach, or olives.
Start by pounding the meat to flatten it and tenderize it. Spread the garlic, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper on the flattened meat. Layer the vegetables and hard-boiled eggs on top of the seasoned meat, then roll it tightly, making sure to secure it with kitchen twine or toothpicks. In a large pot, heat some olive oil and sear the rolled meat on all sides until it is browned. Once seared, add enough water to cover the meat, along with any remaining seasonings or vegetables. Cover the pot and let the matambre simmer on low heat for about two hours, or until the meat is cooked through and tender. Remove the twine or toothpicks, slice the matambre into thick rounds, and serve it with a side of potatoes or a fresh salad. Enjoy this unique and flavorsome Argentinean dish!
What is choripán?
Choripán is a beloved Argentinean street food that combines two of the country’s greatest culinary treasures: chorizo sausage and crusty bread. The name “choripán” is a portmanteau of the words “chorizo” and “pan” (bread), and it perfectly captures the essence of this simple yet incredibly delicious dish. Choripán is often enjoyed as a quick and satisfying meal, whether it’s at a street food stall, a football match, or a backyard barbecue.
To make choripán, you will need chorizo sausages, crusty bread rolls, chimichurri sauce, and any additional toppings or condiments of your choice. Traditional toppings include diced onions and hot sauce.
Preparing choripán is a straightforward process that involves grilling the chorizo sausages and assembling the sandwich. Start by grilling the sausages over medium heat until they are cooked through and have a nice char. While the sausages are grilling, slice the crusty bread rolls lengthwise, making sure not to cut all the way through. Once the sausages are cooked, place them inside the bread rolls and top them with chimichurri sauce and your desired toppings. Serve the choripán hot and enjoy the explosion of flavors in every bite. It’s the perfect handheld snack for any occasion!
What is milanesa?
Milanesa is a popular Argentinean dish that is believed to have been brought to the country by Italian immigrants. It consists of breaded and fried meat cutlets, typically made from beef, chicken, pork, or veal. The breading gives the meat a crisp and golden crust, while keeping the interior juicy and tender. Milanesa is often served with a squeeze of lemon juice and can be enjoyed on its own, with a side of mashed potatoes, or in a sandwich.
To make milanesa, you will need meat cutlets (beef, chicken, pork, or veal), eggs, flour, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and vegetable oil for frying. You can also add garlic powder, paprika, or any other seasonings of your choice to the flour or bread crumbs to enhance the flavor.
Start by seasoning the meat cutlets with salt and pepper. Set up a breading station with three shallow bowls: one with flour, one with beaten eggs, and one with bread crumbs. Dip each cutlet into the flour, then into the beaten eggs, and finally into the bread crumbs, making sure to coat the meat evenly at each step. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat and fry the breaded cutlets until they are golden brown on both sides. Once cooked, transfer the milanesa to a paper towel-lined plate to remove any excess oil. Serve the milanesa hot with a squeeze of lemon juice and your favorite sides. It’s a comforting and satisfying dish that is sure to please!
What is locro?
Locro is a hearty and flavorful stew that is considered to be one of Argentina’s national dishes. This traditional dish has its roots in pre-Columbian times and is often associated with patriotic celebrations, such as Independence Day. Locro is made using a combination of meat, typically beef or pork, and regional ingredients such as corn, potatoes, beans, and squash. The result is a thick and comforting stew that warms the soul and satisfies the appetite.
The ingredients for locro may vary depending on the region, but common ingredients include beef or pork (such as flank steak or bacon), corn kernels, white hominy corn, potatoes, onions, bell peppers, butternut squash, chorizo sausages, beans (such as cannellini or kidney beans), garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, and salt. Locro is traditionally served with a garnish of chopped scallions and a dollop of spicy salsa criolla.
Preparing locro is a labor of love that requires time and patience, as the stew needs to simmer slowly to develop its rich flavors. Start by soaking the white hominy corn overnight, as this will reduce its cooking time. In a large pot, sauté onions, bell peppers, garlic, and chorizo sausages until they are browned and fragrant. Add the cubed meat and cook until it is browned on all sides. Add the soaked white hominy corn, cubed potatoes, butternut squash, and enough water to cover all the ingredients. Season the stew with cumin, paprika, oregano, and salt, and let it simmer gently for several hours, stirring occasionally. As the stew cooks, the hominy corn will release its starch and thicken the liquid, resulting in a creamy and hearty texture. Just before serving, add the cooked beans and let them heat through. Ladle the steaming locro into bowls, garnish with chopped scallions, and serve it with a side of spicy salsa criolla. This delicious stew is the perfect comfort food for a chilly Argentinean evening!
Dulce de leche
What is dulce de leche?
Dulce de leche, which translates to “sweet milk” in English, is a rich and creamy caramel-like sauce that is widely popular in Argentina. It is made by slowly heating sweetened condensed milk until it thickens and develops its signature flavor. Dulce de leche is incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed as a spread on toast, a filling for pastries, or simply eaten by the spoonful. Its sweet and indulgent taste makes it a favorite treat among both locals and visitors alike.
To make dulce de leche, you will need sweetened condensed milk and a pinch of salt. That’s it! It couldn’t be easier.
There are several methods to make dulce de leche, but the most common one involves simmering the sealed can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water for several hours. Start by removing the label from the can and ensuring that it is completely intact. Place the can in a large pot and fill the pot with water, making sure the can is completely submerged. Bring the water to a simmer and let it cook for approximately three hours, adding more water as needed to keep the can covered. After three hours, carefully remove the can from the water and let it cool completely before opening it. Once cooled, you will have a luscious and velvety dulce de leche that is ready to be enjoyed. It’s perfect for drizzling over ice cream, spreading on freshly baked bread, or incorporating into your favorite desserts.
What is mate?
Mate is a traditional Argentinean beverage that is deeply ingrained in the country’s culture and social fabric. It is a type of herb-infused tea that is typically served in a hollowed-out gourd, known as a “mate,” and sipped through a metal straw, known as a “bombilla.” Mate is not just a drink; it is a social ritual that fosters connections, conversations, and shared experiences among friends and family. It is often enjoyed in a circle of people, with each person taking turns preparing and passing the mate to the next person in the group.
To make mate, you will need dried yerba mate leaves, hot water (but not boiling), and a mate gourd and bombilla. The yerba mate leaves can be found in specialty stores or online, and it’s important to choose high-quality leaves for the best flavor. Some people also like to add a sweetener, such as sugar or honey, to their mate.
Preparing mate is a simple yet precise process that requires attention to detail. Start by filling the mate gourd about three-quarters full with dried yerba mate leaves. Shake the gourd gently to settle the leaves and tap it on your hand to create a small slope or indentation on one side. This slope is where the bombilla will be inserted. Heat the water to about 160-180°F (70-85°C) – it should be hot but not boiling. Fill the mate gourd with hot water, being careful not to wet the top of the leaves. Insert the bombilla into the indentation you created earlier, making sure it reaches the bottom of the gourd. Give the mate a gentle shake to allow the smaller particles to settle, then take your first sip from the bombilla. Sip on the mate and pass it to the next person, who will refill it with hot water and pass it back to you. The circle continues, with each person enjoying the mate and sharing in the communal experience. Mate is considered to be a symbol of friendship and hospitality in Argentina, and sharing mate with someone is a gesture of trust and camaraderie. So, grab a gourd, fill it with yerba mate, and savor the flavors and traditions of Argentina!
What is provoleta?
Provoleta is a traditional Argentinean grilled cheese dish that takes indulgence to a whole new level. It is made using provolone cheese, which is seasoned and grilled until it is golden brown and gooey in the middle, with a slightly crispy crust. Provoleta is a beloved dish among cheese lovers and is often enjoyed as an appetizer or a side dish during an asado (barbecue) or a meal.
To make provoleta, you will need slices of provolone cheese, oregano, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and any additional seasonings or toppings of your choice. Some people like to add slices of tomatoes or fresh herbs to their provoleta for an extra burst of flavor.
Provoleta is incredibly simple to prepare, yet it delivers a burst of cheesy goodness that is hard to resist. Start by seasoning the slices of provolone cheese with oregano and red pepper flakes. Drizzle some olive oil on top of the cheese to help it brown and prevent sticking. Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat and place the slices of provolone cheese on the pan. Let them cook for a few minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown and slightly crispy. Carefully flip the provoleta slices using a spatula and cook for a few more minutes, until the other side is golden brown and the cheese is melted and gooey in the middle. Remove the provoleta from the pan and serve it hot with your favorite accompaniments, such as crusty bread or a fresh salad. Get ready to experience the ultimate cheesy delight!
What is tarta?
Tarta, also known as a savory tart or quiche, is a delicious and versatile dish that has become a staple in Argentinean cuisine. It consists of a savory pastry crust filled with various ingredients, such as vegetables, cheese, meats, or a combination of them. Tartas are often enjoyed as a light lunch, a snack, or even as an appetizer, and they can be served hot or cold.
The ingredients for tarta can vary depending on the filling. For the pastry crust, you will need flour, salt, butter or lard, and cold water. The filling can include ingredients such as onions, bell peppers, spinach, cheese, ham, bacon, mushrooms, or any other ingredients of your choice. You will also need eggs and milk to make the custard-like mixture that binds the filling together.
To make the pastry crust, mix the flour and salt in a bowl, then add the butter or lard and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add cold water and knead until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by sautéing the desired ingredients in oil or butter until they are softened. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk to make the custard-like mixture. Once the dough has rested, roll it out and line a tart pan with it. Prick the bottom with a fork to prevent it from puffing up during baking. Spread the sautéed ingredients evenly over the pastry crust, then pour the egg and milk mixture over the filling. Bake the tarta in a preheated oven until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set. Let it cool slightly before slicing and serving. Tarta is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit your tastes, so feel free to experiment with different fillings and ingredients to create your own signature tarta!
So there you have it – a comprehensive guide to some of the must-try traditional Argentinean dishes! From the irresistible flavors of empanadas to the succulent grilled meats of asado, the hearty stews of locro, and the indulgent delights of dulce de leche, Argentinean cuisine is sure to captivate your taste buds and leave you craving more. So, whether you’re planning a trip to Argentina or simply looking to broaden your culinary horizons, be sure to give these traditional dishes a try. You won’t be disappointed!