My friends in Buenos Aires claim their meat is worth the effort. Ask for the cluck (ferrón, guías) or the doce (twelve), a fleshy steak with ground corn and chorizo. Güevo de cáscara (squid), braised octopus with raisins, chilies, peppers and garlic, tastes like it came straight out of Montevideo’s southern neighbourhoods, if it came straight from the sea.
There’s plenty of meat in Uruguay, too. Try a steak marinated with garlic and onion, or guisado de molina, guisado made with chorizo or legumes and beef. The native chullón is grilled steak rubbed with garlic, onions and spices, and then topped with grated cheese and squids, while the carne con hueso (meat with bone), braised beef or chicken stuffed with vegetables, tastes like Mexican restaurant fare with a touch of something from Argentina. Be sure to try rocoto, their version of smoked ham (also called chiquito).
It’s an extremely hot country, so you can’t go wrong with cold meats (like the seviche, fish roe, sea salt and avocado salad). They may be cold, but they’re smooth, rich and tangy. Go for the chuclo seviche, freshly made from fish heads, filled with shrimp, green and red peppers and herbs. Or try the chiquiteña, carne de tomate (shredded meat with herbs, lime and a pinch of salt) or lechón comete (spicy pork) and chorizo made with melted cheese.
There’s a reason why Argentine quiniels, grilled cubes of beef, are called guisados in Uruguay. Try your hand at making them at home with a variety of meat stews, made with different combinations of sausage, beef, lard, guisos and eggs.
Now that’s what I call a farm-to-table menu.
Ariel Wolfson is the owner of the San Juan Bautista Farmer’s Market. She lives in Uruguay with her husband and three young daughters.
South American Meat-Lovers’ Recommendations
In contrast to Europe, where beef is very scarce, the South American diet is almost exclusively based on animal products.
The maceration and traditional seasoning of beef, called “tratado” (translated as “matching”), was for centuries developed by the Spaniards to attract the South Americans to their emigration to the New World. But in recent decades, the meat has regained popularity, once again.
Among the best beef producers in South America are the Venezuelan, Peruvian, Colombian, Chilean and Argentine, because they use a lot of seasoning, the different varieties of beef are affordable and affordable to those who don’t go to the supermarket.
One of the most characteristic dishes is the Chilean Beef Stew, which is an easy dish and requires no sauces or anything to accompany it. The typical seasoning for this dish is that of olive oil and chili pepper, lemon juice, wine, salt and pepper.
For an even simpler dish, try the Chilean Chuleta, which is made from cow’s tongue, rather than beef. Of course, you don’t need a tongue for this recipe, but rather the meat of different animals.
An emerging tradition around enjoying some good meaty dishes is that which sees diners engaged in some mobile casino fun on their smartphones, perhaps recreating a connection with those meat ranches housed in the casino venues of Native Americans.