Thursday, April 21, 2011

Passover Foods With an Argentine Twist

Homemade gefilte fish (photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons/Olaf.herfurth)

 People all over the world are celebrating Passover this week, often with interesting local takes on traditional foods. In Argentina, foods are influenced by European traditions, Latin cooking, indigenous and gaucho cultures and seasonal ingredients (Passover falls in the autumn rather than the spring in Argentina, since the country lies in the Southern Hemisphere). Although many people don't immediately think of Argentina as a thriving center of Jewish culture, there are in fact more than 250,000 Argentine Jews and Buenos Aires alone is home to 56 synagogues: 50 Orthodox, 5 Conservative and one Reform. Currently, Argentina has the 7th largest Jewish population in the world and the largest Jewish community in South America. If you are in the mood for something other than traditional Passover foods, there is even a Kosher McDonald's in the Abasto Shopping Center, the only one in the world outside Israel.

Choosing a Kosher bottle of Argentine wine (photo courtesy of

Food is influenced strongly by old world heritage since the families of many Argentine Jews emigrated from Eastern and Western Europe and the Ottoman Empire, but it is also influenced by the culture of the Gauchos Judios or Jewish Cowboys, who cook their food over grills on open fires (asados), and prefer simple meals with fresh ingredients. Argentines tend to make things by hand instead of buying pre-packaged foods, hence many prepare their own gefilte fish, matzah balls, kishke asado (grilled intestines stuffed with potatoes, matzah meal, eggs, chicken fat and spices) and chicken broth. Some popular Passover dishes are Pollo de la Pascua Judia (Passover Chicken), a delicious grilled chicken prepared with dried fruit, olives, garlic and autumn root vegetables; Pollo Asado con Chimichurri (Roast Chicken marinated in Chimichurri sauce: a red or green spicy garlic, cilantro, parsley and pepper sauce) or Albondigas de Papas (potato balls stuffed with ground beef and onions). Argentines are also well-known for their superb wines and bodegas such as Arco Nuevo, Byblos and Terroso produce some wonderful Kosher Malbecs, Cabernets and Syrahs.

Photo of chicken with dried fruit and olives (Courtesy of

Pollo de la Pascua Judia (Passover Chicken)

•1 tbsp. olive oil

•2 chickens, cut into pieces

•1 1/2 med. onions, diced

•1/2 cup green olives, pitted

•1/2 cup dried apricots (or other dried fruit such as pears, peaches or a mix), coarsely chopped

•1/2 cup pitted prunes, coarsely chopped

• 1/2 cup butternut squash, cubed

• 2 cinnamon sticks

•2 bay leaves

•1 tsp. salt

•1 tsp. ground cumin

•1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns

•1 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth

•1/4 cup Kosher red wine vinegar

•1/4 cup Kosher red wine

•2 TBS. honey

•2 heads of garlic

In large casserole dish, heat oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken, in batches. Transfer to plate.
Drain off fat from pan; reduce heat to medium. Add onions, olives, apricots, prunes, butternut squash, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, salt, cumin and peppercorns; cook for one minute. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan.

In bowl, whisk together chicken broth, wine vinegar, red wine and honey; pour over chicken. Slice off the tops of the heads of garlic, separate into cloves and place between chicken pieces. Cover and bring to boil; reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is no longer pink inside, about 35-45 minutes. Discard bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Serve chicken on a warm platter surrounded by baked garlic cloves; guests can squeeze the garlic paste from the skins as desired. Serves 8.

(Recipe in English adapted from Canadian Living Magazine: April 2003)

No comments:

Post a Comment