Country: Argentina, Latin America
Notes: In Latin American cultures, an empanada is a type of baked or fried pastry, consisting of pastry and filling. Empanadas are made by folding dough over a stuffing, which may consist of meat, cheese, corn, or other ingredients. For our trip of empanadas we have three types, ground meat with chimichurri, shredded chicken with tomato and then the Caprese. The caprese version is the one that has an Italian influence but is very popular in Argentina.
Preparation: The masa is rolled out into circles and then the fillings are added to the center. The dough is then folded over the filling to form a half circle and then the edges are pressed together to seal the filling inside. When ready the empanadas are fried to order to give a crispy texture.
Country: Costa Rica, Mexico
Notes: When cooking meat, it is important to know how often the muscle was used by the animal. A good way to think about it is that the more the muscle is used, the better it will taste but the tougher it will be. If a muscle is not used very often it’s going to be very tender but doesn’t have the same taste as muscles that are used more often. The tongue has a lot of flavor because all a cow does is eat grass all day! So, very gentle and moist cooking is the way to go to make it super tender. The most popular way to cook it is to place it in seasoned liquid with aromatics and then simmer it on low until tender. In Mexico, the most popular way to eat it is to shred it up and put it in a taco.
Here in Costa Rica, another popular way to cook a classic dish is to make Lengua en salsa: tender beef tongue in a savory tomato-based sauce. For us here at Alma, we have mixed the two popular ways to serve it together, taking the Costa Rican version and making it into a taco and topping it with escabeche.
Preparation: Beef tongue is slow-cooked in broth with aromatics until tender. The tongue is then diced and cooked on the plancha until it gets a brown color for extra flavor and then it seasoned with cumin salt. Tomato sauce is spread on a fresh tortilla and the tongue is placed on top. Finally, a garnish of escabeche is put on top of each taco.