Argentina’s Independence Day is celebrated on July 9, which is winter in the Southern Hemisphere. While in the United States we are cooking hamburgers and hot dogs in the intense heat of summer, Argentines are feasting on this savory and sweet stew of meat, wine and fall vegetables.
For the pumpkin or squash:
1 4 pound pumpkin or 4 medium acorn squash about 1-1 1/2 pounds each
4 teaspoon of unsalted butter
4 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
8 black peppercorns
1/2 cup of milk or broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
For the beef stew:
2/3 cup of plum tomatoes with their juice, canned
1 2/3 beef stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, salt pork or slab bacon (1/3 inch thick), diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 bay leaves
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 pound venison or tender stewing beef, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 small onions, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon sugar
2 carrots peeled, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup dry red wine
1 large red potato, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1 ear of corn, husked and chopped into 6 pieces
2 ripe peaches, pitted and quartered (optional)
2 pears, cored and quartered (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Slice about 2 inches off the pumpkin or each squash. Scoop out and discard the fibers and seeds. Sprinkle generously with salt. Add a teaspoon of butter, bay leaf, sprig of thyme, garlic clove, and two peppercorns to each squash. Pour in broth or milk and cover with tops. Place in lower third of the oven and bake until tender when pieced, about one hour.*
Combine tomatoes and beef stock in saucepan, crushing tomatoes with wooden spoon. Cook over medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, 2 bay leaves, and sprig of rosemary and cook till pancetta renders fat. Raise heat to high and add beef and garlic cloves. Saute until browned on all sides. Add salt and pepper to taste and red wine vinegar. Boil until liquid evaporates. Add onions and sugar. Remove the rosemary sprig and add carrots. Pour in red wine and bring to a boil for 2 minutes so that the alcohol cooks off. Add potato, sweet potato, tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer. Add corn, peaches, and pears. Partially cover and simmer until meat and vegetable are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and season to taste.
Remove pumpkin or squash from oven and pour out any liquid. Serve the stew out of the pumpkin or squashed, scooping out some of the pumpkin or squash with each serving.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, by Francis Mallmann with Peter Kaminsky; Artisan, 2009