Celebrating 200 Years of Argentina's History

Today I'm pleased to present a guest post authored by María Carrá, an Argentine native and author of the blog Buenos Aires Foodies. María calls the bustling Argentine capital home, where she makes her living as a food writer, uncovering the best of the city's cafés and many gastronomic offerings. Her passion for food stems from a childhood spent in the kitchen with her family and exposure to a variety of good eats after living in both Argentina and the U.S.

María's blog explores the Buenos Aires food scene, providing regular updates on gourmet finds, local food news, and much more. You can also connect with María and Buenos Aires Foodies through Facebook and Twitter. So without further ado, take it away, María!

On May 25, 2010, Argentina commemorates the bicentennial anniversary of the May Revolution that led to the nation's independence. Celebrations will include parades, special events throughout the country, and of course, delicious food. Traditional Argentine dishes will be served by local parrillas and restaurants throughout the long weekend from May 22nd through the 25th.

Bakeries are filled with the mouthwatering aroma of tortas fritas, a deep-fried pastry dough, and pastelitos, a flaky pastry filled with quince or sweet potato jam and topped with sprinkles.

One favorite that gets plenty of attention during patriotic holidays is locro, a bean and corn stew seasoned with spices and bits of chorizo. Other traditional stews such as guiso de mondongo make an appearance, a dish reserved for the brave since it's made with cow's stomach. My personal favorite, guiso de lentejas (lentil stew), is chock-full of carrots, potatoes and smoked pancetta. Recipes may vary a bit from one family to another.

The ever-present asado will crown the meal and give way to a lazy afternoon of mate accompanied by pastelitos and tortas fritas.

Below is my grandmother's recipe for guiso de lentejas. This recipe is easy to follow and doesn't take long to make. Just remember to keep adding ingredients and stir–you'll have a guiso in no time.

Lentil Stew by Megi Senmenek at Linden Tea [photo used with permission of photographer]

Grandma Elsa's Lentil Stew | Guiso de Lentejas de la Abuela Elsa
Makes 4-5 servings


2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large red bell pepper, diced
3 medium onions, diced
1 carrot, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. (250 g) beef chuck, cubed [optional]
1 chorizo colorado, removed from the casing and sliced
11 oz. (300 g) smoked pancetta
1 tsp. paprika 
34 oz. (1 L) tomato purée
8 (7.05 oz./200 g) cans of lentils
2 small potatoes, cubed
beef stock [as needed]
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley


Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add peppers, onions, and carrots, and sauté until onion is translucent. Add garlic and lightly sauté; do not allow it to brown. Add beef cubes, chorizo colorado, pancetta and paprika. Brown the meats well, and then add tomato purée. Cook the stew until the carrots have softened, and then add lentils. Cook for 5 more minutes, and add potatoes.

Simmer, covered, over low heat for approximately 10 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Stir occasionally and add beef stock to the stew throughout the cooking process, as needed [the final result should be a bit soupy].

Season with salt and pepper to taste at the end of the cooking process [remember that pancetta, chorizo and beef stock are salty]. Stir in fresh parsley.

Let the stew sit for a few minutes before serving. Accompany with a fresh baguette. Enjoy!

Note: Make ahead if desired, as the recipe is always better the day after.

[Photo credit: Megi Senmenek at Linden Tea]

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