Week 39 – Argentina – 8 November 2015
From Africa, across the South Atlantic to South America, this week Eat the World brought me to Argentina, which tied in very nicely with the final Festival of the Pizza edition. Argentina loves meat and while the cheesy fugazzeta provided a rare meatless option, there’s little else to choose from if you’re a vegetarian.
My dish for the week was Argentinian Locro, a soup so hearty it hurts. You can’t call this a pork soup, nor can you call it a pumpkin soup. It’s a bowl that actually celebrates five ingredients: chorizo, pork, pumpkin, butter beans and corn. Chilli, garlic and spices add to the flavour of what becomes a heavy, textural mishmash that tastes quite incredible and fills you up with little effort.
A nice start to South America, this soup might have set the tone for the meat-loving continent. The recipe was easy, although I would recommend holding onto this one as a winter warmer.
Week 40 – Chile – 15 November 2015
More meat in store this week, albeit in a healthier option. Neighbouring Argentina, Chile presented yet another swag of meaty recipes. The one I chose to go with, Pastel de Choclo Chileno (Chilean Corn Pie) is like South America’s answer to the Shepherd’s pie. And it’s delicious!
Two layers are prepared for this meal: the meat and the corn. Onions, loads of garlic and minced beef make the base, altogether spiced with paprika, cumin and oregano. Stock and flour turn all of that into a thick beef base that completes layer 1.
Next, the three corn components – corn, cornmeal and cornstarch – are united and blitzed to a paste before being cooked on the stove top. This layer is placed atop the beef, sprinkled with brown sugar and then the whole thing is baked. Easy peasy.
The recipe is available here. Alongside the pie, I served sweet potato chips seasoned in paprika and cayenne pepper. Mmm.
Week 41 – Brazil – 22 November 2015
Meat central almost struck again, as I discovered a wonderful variety of recipes for Brazil’s national dish, Feijoada. The thing consists of pork ribs, pork shoulder, ham hock, bacon and various sausages all cooked for hours on the stove… I almost went with this, but changed my mind last minute.
Instead, I went for something that strayed a little from the South American ethos of “more meat, more awesome”. Sopa de Camarao, or more simply prawn soup, ended up on the table in place of Pig Pig Celebration.
This recipe was a lot friendlier and arguably more interesting than the alternative. Cooked in coconut milk, the prawn soup felt more like a South Asian dish. However, therein lay the intrigue for the week – a crossover of cuisine.
Combined with egg yolks and butter, the soup was incredibly rich. But, along with the huge load of garlic and lemony prawns, it ended up balanced and was certainly tasty. Quite unlike your first thought of soup, this was a thick and flavoursome feast that more than filled us up.
Week 42 – Peru – 29 November 2015
There are many ways to roast a chook; but what way is more joyous than having one swim in beer for 24 hours prior? The recipes I came across for Peru were a series of easy ones, aligning with the common themes of its South American neighbours. While it was simple options abound, I chose a lengthier roast for some variation from stews and soups.
Pollo la braza peruano translates directly to the Peruvian chicken breaststroke, which is such a perfect description for this dish. Loads of pepper, cumin and garlic (and I mean loads!) mixed with sugar and salt in red wine vinegar, canola oil and beer to create a marinade for the chook to swim in overnight. The result was an intense flavour that battles in your mouth – fiery, salty, sweet and tangy!
And after spending an hour in the oven (I opted for a more traditional roasting method than the one in the recipe), the marinade thickened to a beautiful, sticky sauce that added to the pleasure of everything on the plate!
Rounding out the plate, I served the chicken with fresh corn and avocado, as well as plantain chips, which I simply sliced thinly and roasted in a little oil at 200C for 15-20 minutes.
This recipe is available here.