The last time I crossed off a South American country, the country was Bolivia and it was nearly a year and a half ago. When the time usually comes for me to make something from the Americas, I end up focussing on the Caribbean nations because I am so concerned about the amount of them and just how much they have in common. So, making something from South America feels like a real treat.
One day I will make empanadas for this challenge. When looking through all the different things I could make for Chile, I then thought it would be better to save that for a country where I was unable to find proper ingredients or there was so much overlap with other cuisines it just made sense. I guess that the variety in Chilean cuisine is down to two things – the mix of indigenous and colonial traditions and the rather extreme geography.
To be honest, there are so many things that I could have made for Chile if we weren’t still, at time of writing, in a lockdown situation. I am not sure that I would have been able to track down yucca or a lot of the necessary seafood because… well I would have if I could have gotten into Central London without the feeling that I was breaking all sorts of rules. Still though, managed to make some delicious things in the name of Chilean cuisine.
So I took it upon myself this time, who knows why, that I would make the bread for the main meal. Mostly because getting good bread for my Cuban sandwich was tough enough in the before times, let alone where I am very limited by my bread shopping options. In retrospect, I could have gone with the suggestion of using ciabatta, but it is what it is.
To make this marraqueta, using the recipe from 196 Flavors, it was time for another bout of midnight baking. I don’t know why I end up making a lot of the baked goods for this list around midnight on a Friday. Just living it large at the edge of London I guess.
I know that the ones I made look not a lot like the picture for two things. First, I was not able to properly connect the balls like I was meant to, but they fused enough in their own way so sure. Also, the divot I made with my knife sharpener just ended up almost disappearing as the rolls baked. Still tasted good though.
Doing this challenge has really shown me the place to look for some of the best sandwiches in the world is in the Americas. The médianoche and the chivito have been some of the most delicious things I have made – just period. This is also the continent that has all the ridiculous types of U.S. sandwiches, so I guess it makes sense that I went for a particularly Chilean sandwich.
Using the recipe from Serious Eats and the rolls I made the night before, these chacarero chileno sandwiches were beautiful. The reason it works so well is the garlic mayonnaise that you end up making. Not only is it delicious as a spread on the bread, but it is also essential in helping keep the steak nice and juicy.
I had to deviate from the recipe in two ways, but honestly I don’t think it would have changed it enough to make it invalid. Firstly, I was limited about the jarred peppers that I could fine, so instead of banana peppers I used these lovely golden pepperdews. I thought that with that these would contrast nicely with the green beans and red tomatoes whilst also being tasty. Also, as I live in a flat, I used my dual-press grill to cook the beef.
This was delicious. Even if it was initially too large to wrap my jaw around.
Personally, the fact that I ended up with an end product that remotely resembled what I was meant to be making is thanks to my last remaining brain cells. Thanks to the recipe from Curious Cuisiniere using inches and the pan I ordered using centimetres – I ended up with a bit of a mismatch. Namely, too much mix for my pan that was a bit too small.
The problem? There are two. First, this is a chonky cake. Like this cake was meant to be thinner and over a wider area, which would have made for a more impressive swirl. Then there is the larger issue that, even though I tried to compensate the cooking time, there was a patch of the cake which wasn’t exactly cooked. Thankfully this could be removed with some surgery and about 80% of the cake could be used.
This cake – think a swiss roll with a vanilla sponge and a delicious dulce de leche filling – is the first time that I have ever tried to make a roll cake. Having seen so many fails on The Great British Bake Off, I was pretty worried about the cake just falling apart as I wrapped it. Somehow I managed to roll it so that there were no cracks and, despite being a bit thick, got a nice swirl and an overall really good flavour. So yes, a success despite some issues.
So, for the next country I cook for I will not be making as much as I did for Chile. Honestly, for my own sanity I need to keep having more countries with just one dish to cook rather than just overreach. Sure it pretty much all worked out this time… but there have been tears in the past. Hopefully there won’t be any tears when I make my next county. Please.