South American Grill

South American Grill by Rachel Lane, Hardie Grant 2012, $24.95 cloth, 207 pages

South American Grill by Rachel Lane, Hardie Grant 2012, $24.95 cloth, 207 pages

There’s an Argentinean grill in Miami that I love. After you order your enrolada or asado de tiras, the glossy waitresses at Las Vacas Gordas will ask if you’d like a side of sausage to go with that hunk of beef—perhaps some cinnamon-y morcilla or barnyard-fragrant chinchulines?

It’s delightful, but as this book shows, there’s more to the South American grill than beef. These recipes,  from Peru, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay include the greatest hits. 

It starts with  appetizers with have the bright, nibbly quality that will prime your appetite. Peruvian Ceviche takes nothing more than some onions, lime and thinly sliced fish. After a half hour, you’ll have a tender tangy dish of “cooked” fish and a bowlful of leche de tigre marinade that makes an eye-opening drink.  Grilled Brazilian Garlic Bread is slick with mayonnaise, and, for the more daring—grilled chicken hearts spiced with oregano and sauce with lemon. For the less daring and more patient—Argentinian empanadas stuffed with chopped beef, olives, hard boiled eggs and spices. An Uruguyan Chivito sandwich is called a little goat, but has plenty going on with layers of beef, fried egg, bacon, mozzarella, and ham.

For the “vegetarians,” fish dishes include salt-baked salmon, an Afro-Brazilian Seafood Coconut Stew, or grilled chicken with lemon and rosemary. 

To round out the plate and lend authentic flavor recipes for sauces range from a Brazilian Vinagrete to a quintessential Argentinian Chimichurri that lend a peppery tang to rich slabs of grilled meat. To really fill in those empty spots, side dishes range from hearty Humitas—steamed parcels of corn and cheese to bright and light grilled red peppers or hearts of palm salad. Others are simple—something for the man on the grill to fiddle with while the steaks sizzle—like grilled plantains or baked rosemary onions. And let’s be honest, some of these sides can stand on their own, particularly Brazilian Black Bean Stew—Feijao or Ecuadorian Menestra, a lentil stew with garlic, cloves, cumin finished with cilantro.

And because all this requires more, there’s dessert. Crème Caramel, crumbly Alfajores cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche, or Chilean style papaya marinated in Pisco and sauce with softly whipped cream. To wash it all down—mango or coconut cocktails, Caipirnihas, or Clerico—Uruguayan white wine sangria.

A little challenge comes from translating South American culture through an Australian publisher, but nothing that a quick google can’t resolve. I now know that a scotch fillet is a ribeye. It might be a bit more difficult to talk your butcher into butterflying a flank steak for your matambre or to cut you a pichana, a Brazilian rump cap, layered with the melty fat that tenderizes the meat as it grills. But you’re resourceful—if you’re ready to grill chicken hearts or face down Farofa, you’ll find an amenable meat market.

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About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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