On the Argentine Table: Milanesas

(Photo by Los viajes del Cangrejo)

Many stories are told about the history of the Milanesa, a delicious Argentine staple made by frying breadcrumb-coated meat.

This savory meal, present in every local household, is believed to have originated in Germany (known there as the Weiner Schnitzel). Others argue that it actually came from Austria, and that it was a Baroque concoction seeking to simulate the gold covered furniture and decorations of the time. Yet another version says that the original Milanesa was from Milan.  This story states that in the 1800’s an Austrian marshal traveled to Italy and encountered the Italian version of the staple, claiming it to be the true original.  What many argue is that until the 1900’s the dish was called Viennese Scallops, even in Italy, and that it was replaced by the milanesa term afterwards.

Whichever its origins may be, one thing is certain, and that is that milanesas are delicious! They are also a very important part of Argentine cuisine, specially the Argentine Napolitana version (coated with ham, cheese and tomato). In fact, on an online poll in 2011 that sought to establish the Milanesa as the true Argentine food over the traditional asado, 72% voted in favor of the milanesa.

So, where to try one? A difficult question to answer. The best milanesas are always home made (find a recipe here). Especially in the last few years with the increase of meat prices, as many a trustworthy bodegon has resorted to cheaper thin slices of meat between thick coats of breading, when it should be the other way around. There are however a few spots where this savory meal can be enjoyed.

The best milanesas hands down are served on the corner of Medrano and Gorriti, in a nameless bodegón where the owners (who must be around 70 years old) serve food at midday.  Medrano and Gorriti, Palermo. 4862-9905.

Club del Progreso is another alterative that serves top quality milanesas. The elegant historic club, which dates back to 1852, serves traditional food in a stately antique setting. Sarmiento 1334, Downtown. 4372 3380.

Matambre

(Photo by maggiemason)

Matambre is a typical and savory Argentine staple consisting of flank steak (beef, or pork)  prepared on the grill, in the oven, or boiled and stuffed with egg and vegetables.  Matambre actually comes from the word mata (kills) and hambre (hunger) and got its name because it is a fast cooking meat that Argies peck at while the rest of the slow cooking asado sizzles on the grill.

This local delicacy is well worth trying. The stuffed version (Matambre arrollado), available at any deli store (fiambreria), works very well as sandwich meat, a good picnic alternative.

You can also share this typical Argentine food with friends and family by making your own! See the Matambre Arrollado recipe below.

Matambre Arrollado- or  Stuffed Hungerkill 🙂

Marinade:

1 veal flank steak

1 liter of milk  (or ½ a cup of white wine and ½ a cup of vinegar)

1 garlic clove

1 tsp. thyme

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

For the filling:

A few slices of bacon

6 Hard-boiled eggs (or as needed, this will depend on the size of the flank steak)

200 grams of spinach

2 carrots

1 clove of garlic

Finely chopped parsley

Flavorless gelatin or 2 beaten eggs with parmesan cheese.

Salt and pepper as needed.

Mustard- optional

Putting it together:

1- Remove the fat from the fatty side of the flank steak

2- Combine the marinade ingredients in a deep dish and  allow the flank steak to sit in the marinade overnight if it’s made with milk, or for a few hours if done with the vinegar and wine.

3- Boil the eggs, grate the carrots, and finely chop the garlic and the parsley.

4- If you choose to oven bake then spread the flank on a large piece of foil with the fatty side up, if you’re going to boil then skip the foil.

5- Spread with mustard (optional), sprinkle with salt and cover with garlic and parsley.

6- Place the spinach leaves along the flank.

7- Cover the spinach with the bacon.

8- Spread the grated carrot on top.

9-  Place the eggs in a long side row at around 4 cm from the border of the flank.

10- Sprinkle with the gelatin powder or cover with the egg and parmesan mixture (this is to hold the filling together).

11- Roll up the flank. If you’re baking then roll it with the foil and secure the ends well with toothpicks and bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour per flank kilo. If you’re boiling sew the all the edges with a needle and thread.

12-  Wrap the flank roll in a light cotton cloth and tie up with cotton string.

13-  Boil the roll in salted water for approximately 1hour per kilo of flank (the flank you choose should weigh around 2kgs).

14- Remove from the water and place a cutting board and something heavy on top whilst it cools for approximately 5 hours.

15-  Remove the cloth and strings and serve sliced.

Our Dining Picks: Rotiseria Miramar

(Boquerones by BocaDorada)

In the heart of the traditional tango barrio of Boedo, this charming traditional “rotisería” offers typical Spanish influenced Argentine food. A good wine selection completes their tasty menu. We recommend you try their oysters, cheese and cold cuts, amazing boquerones, and rabbit amongst other delicacies.
San Juan 1999 Boedo ,
4304-4261
Tue-Sun 12am-4pm- 8pm-1am