1/6/2022 - Country #3 - Argentina

Updated: Apr 18

I'm not Argentinian by any means. Yet, this meal was the most familiar and the most comforting to eat and enjoy. What helped is that I made it for my brother, a meal of empanadas and cookies, which are foods I've made a few times for him before.

After a long day at work I didn't particularly enjoy, I made empanadas, chimichurri, and alfajores. So, meat hand pies, herb sauce, and shortbread sandwich cookies with dulce de leche filling.

The meal actually started at 6:30 AM on Thursday morning. Following the recipe from Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies (Alfajores) - Herbs & Flour (herbsandflour.com), I did exactly as she said to do to make the dulce de leche: I removed the paper label from around the can of sweetened condensed milk, put it in a slow cooker, covered with water, and put it on low for 8 hours. I checked my slow cooker on my lunch and as putting a metal can in a heat source full of water hadn't burned down my apartment yet, I let the experiment proceed. Then, I got home at 4 PM, took the can out with tongs, and put it on a table in my screened-in porch. The metal cooled in the cool January air. I popped the top and what greeted me was perfectly caramelized sweetened condensed milk - thick and spreadable, the sugars sweet and caramel and dark brown - I couldn't believe how well that little trick worked. I commend the author for her neat trick and wholeheartedly recommend this tip the next time you need dulce de leche for a recipe (especially when a visit to six grocery stores shows you that no one in Durham sells it!).

I made these recipes:

Empanadas Mendocinas - Argentinian Empanadas - Laylita's Recipes

Traditional chimichurri sauce - Laylita's Recipes

Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies (Alfajores) - Herbs & Flour (herbsandflour.com)

The dough for the empanadas came together quickly. I rolled them too small and had to roll each circle out individually to get them big enough to go around the filling, lolz.

The meat was sauteed with onions, a copious amount of butter, and a high heat in a cast iron skillet. Heavily seasoned with cumin, paprika, and chili powder (I didn't add enough of this because I ran out - I tried to atone for my egregious sin with more shakes of paprika), it got seared and reminded me of sausage. It smelled amazing. I hard-boiled eggs to top the meat in the empanadas, which is different from what I've usually done, but I liked the heartiness. I left out the green olives for two reasons: 1., Jon and I don't like green olives. 2., I done plumb forgot to buy them, y'all. Atlas shrugged.

All my empanadas turned out just like people - big and small, white and brown, in all shapes and sizes. But they also all turned out just like people - fun, flavorful, and warm and comforting.

For the chimichurri, I didn't want it to be rough chopped. Frankly, I didn't chop it tiny enough, so I put all the mixture into a blender and pureed that sucker (as you will learn, most of my improv-ing is due to my mess-ups. I am very solution-oriented). I enjoyed the texture and think it has a more consistent flavor. Not very traditional, but DANG it tasted good.

The alfajores was the love child of shortbread and a sugar cookie. I cut some too thin and some too thick and some just right. The thin ones browned so far as just before burnt, so I cut the rest thicker and baked them less and they came out muy bonitas.

Here are the moneyshots:

The empanadas were so well-seasoned - again, well-spiced, not spicy. I'm learning that the most here. There is a difference. The chimichurri was acidic with the bite of the lemon juice and red wine vinegar - herbaceous as well. It complimented the richness of the meat and dough.

I found Argentinian recipes on Argentina Traditional Food: 15 Famous Dishes You Should Try - Rainforest Cruises; usually when I look up a foreign country, I've never heard of their dishes before. However, I'd heard of alfajores just this past month - a Brazilian baker, Jose, made them on Holiday Baking Championship in December. I wanted to make them from his description and the judges' reaction, and now was the perfect time.

They taste like shortbread and caramel. I learned that the flavor of the dulce de leche comes out more if they sit a day or two. They're crunchy and soft in the middle - a pure brown sugar fest. Delish.


Country: Argentina

Day made: 1/6/2022, Thursday

Day post made: 1/8/2022, Saturday

Would I make it again? 9/10, def would - my fave so far!!!

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