A few months before the pandemic hit, my wife and I took an anniversary trip to Patagonia with stops in Santiago and Buenos Aires on the way there and back, respectively. I knew Argentina was big on meat—I had a co-worker once with an Argentinian spouse who liked to say, "They have thousands of miles of coastline and all they eat is beef"—but what struck me more than that while I was there was how much cheese they eat too. You pretty much get a brick of cheese on each slice of pizza! So while you might think an Argentinian-inspired Meatwave would be all about the beef, I doubled down on the cheese at this cookout that was dubbed "Meatabolic System."
Okay, so this initial item doesn't have any cheese in it, but these smoked beef empanadas were the first thing I prepped and offered to my guests at this cookout. I actually smoked up a chunk of beef cheek while I had the smoker going at Carne-val, and a couple days later I turned that into an empanada filling, constructed three dozen of these small dough pockets, and froze them. Then on Meatwave day I merely had to heat them up and serve, and they certainly set a high bar for the day with a filling that was deeply flavored with a strong beefiness, smokiness, and nice hit of heat.
About a week later I made these charred corn and cheese empanadas. They had grilled red peppers and onions in them too, all mixed into a cheese sauce akin to what you would use for macaroni and cheese. Like many cheese empanadas that I made before, I had problems with the cheese exploding out during the baking of these, but not all of them suffered that fate, and even the ones that did still had enough filling left inside to provide a pretty full flavor experience that was rich and sweet.
Moving deeper into the cheese category, I served up provoleta, which is grilled provolone cheese. I actually tried to make this in my earlier grilling days and ended up with messy blob of cheese which, even though it was still delicious, was missing the crispy bits that make provoleta so good. I saw a Youtube video that had a solution for this by allowing the cheese to develop a rind by sitting out a few days in the fridge, and that totally solved the issue and my provolone grilled up with the great browned crust it should have.
For the most substantial offering of the day, I made choripan. First I needed the required Argentinian chorizo, which I made myself and was quite happy with the end result. Having the proper sausage was crucial when the rest of the sandwich was merely the bread with spoonfuls of chimichurri. It might sound minimal, but the immense flavor of the sausage and chimichurri meant these babies had a incredible depth to them.
While not something I experienced in Argentina myself, while doing some research I saw videos of tortillas a la parilla, which are kind of like giant grilled empanadas, and knew I wanted to try them out. Ham and cheese seemed to be the most common filling, so I had to have that one on the menu and it was indeed delicious.
But for a vegetarian option I also did a caprese variation filled with mozzarella, tomatoes, pesto, and balsamic and these were superior in my mind. Of course this is a tried and true combination of ingredients, but the first super ripe and sweet tomatoes of the season insured these were pretty exceptional.
When it came to sides, I wanted something I could make a day ahead, so went for a potato salad. This was a recipe I saw on Cook's Country that fries garlic slivers in olive oil to form the base of the dressing, then introduces a lot of herbs into the equation. This tangy and garlicky salad fit quite nicely into the overall menu, and serving it cold provided some extra refreshment on the hot day.
The show stopping side dish though came from my friend Mel with this super savory and rich bean dip. I heard so many of my guests talking about how great the bean dip was all throughout the day, and it was indeed something special.
I also need to shout out Kevin and Heather for bringing this amazing pineapple and cheese hedgehog. It entered into the menu later in the day, but I could not resist a few pieces of fruit and cheese as we all sat and chatted into the early evening.
After a blowout Carne-val with around 40 people in attendance, I was hoping for a lighter crow this time, and I got it, although we still had almost 20 folks come through during the day. Bryan, Jenny, and Annie were a few of those, and Bryan and I did some important planning for an upcoming backyard screening of Crank 2 that I need to make happen this summer.
And here's the group of friends we had later in the day, with Kevin, Heather, Kristin, Nick, Ryan, Kaitlin, Juliana, Mel and Christina, all humoring me as I asked for a photo after everyone was stuffed and sweaty.
Ethan didn't seem to mind the heat though and he gets props for having more fun than anyone as he took the penny board down the hill over and over again. With the heat now set in for the summer, The Meatwave will slow down, but if things are at least somewhat bearable, you'll probably see one more cookout before we really get going again in the fall.
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Josh Looks great man. I'd like to see some recipes based off what you served.
Josh @Josh Recipes will be coming for all it, it'll just take some time for all the dishes to get their own post.