What is Matambre?
Matambre comes from the Spanish word "matar" means kill, and "hambre" means hunger. So it's said that it's a dish that kills-hunger. Well it's true, you wouldn't be hungry after eating this.
Matambre is a famously known traditional dish in Argentina. It's a rolled meat stuffed with hard boiled eggs, vegetables and condiments. The rolled meat will then be cooked either by boiling or roasting it. It is then sliced, showing the beautiful filling inside and served at room temperature.
The meat cut used for this matambre is the thin layer of meat that covers the ribs of the cow. In Argentina that cut is also known as matambre. It is of course known differently in other countries.
Matambre and memories
My husband and his family have always eaten this matambre for Christmas, together with tuna pionono and vitel tonne. Those have been traditional meals in the family. Tradition always comes with memories. And memories are always cherished in our hearts.
I have been curious about making matambre for quite a while. One day a few years ago, my mother in law told me that my father in law went and bought the meat from our local butcher. She had prepared all the ingredients and wanted to show me how to make it. I got very excited, of course. So I learnt and I thought I'd share it with you now.
The meat comes in a roll. The shape is not perfectly square or triangle. The thickness is not all the same also. There's usually more fat than you would want to use.
So when I buy the meat, I usually process it first. Nothing major. First I would trim off the excess fat. There will always be a part where the meat is thicker than the rest. I will make it the same thickness by carefully opening it like a book.
This step will also expand the meat surface. Since I will be rolling the meat, so if I see there's some inconvenient shapes at one end (for example), I will cut it out and patch it somewhere so that the meat will have more or less a rectangle shape.
The meat comes with two different sides. One side comes with lots of fat and the other doesn't. I usually trim off the fat as much as I can, leaving some on purpose. For this recipe, we will be using the side with the fat as the inside of the roll. The fat will help keep the inside of the roll juicy.
Other recipes like pizza matambre, uses the side with fat as the outside side. So it depends on what recipe you're making. Maybe I'll share pizza matambre recipe soon.
In this recipe I'm using the ingredients that my mother in law taught me, the way she has been doing it for more than 35 years. I thought I'd keep the tradition. You can, of course, add or use anything you like.
I'm using carrots, roasted sweet bell peppers, parsley, garlic, parmesan and salt and few grinds of black pepper as seasoning. I first sliced the carrots into strips and boiled them just until they were tender. Boiling them first ensures that they're soft and makes it easier to slice later when serving.
I used roasted sweet bell pepper. Also for the same reason as using boiled carrots, so that they're not hard. Some people use fresh bell peppers, to each his own. We just like it this way. The colors of the carrots and sweet red bell peppers make such a contrast and will be beautifully displayed after we slice the meat.
I also used parsley and garlic. I chopped them together, to make it easier. Then of course, a good amount of grated parmesan is always good. Don't forget about the boiled eggs. And that's all, the ingredients are really basic.
I know some people use gelatin and breadcrumbs in the filling. This is a recipe from at least 35 years ago so I doubt that my mother in law could find gelatin easily back then 😀
After having all the ingredients ready, it's all just about assembling. Lay the meat on a clean working surface, with the shorter end facing you. You will be rolling from that. Season the inside of the meat well with salt and black pepper, then sprinkle evenly chili flakes (if you like it a bit spicy), chopped parsley, garlic and parmesan.
Then starting at beginning of the meat nearest to you, leave around 2 inches empty space and start placing the red pepper strips in a line. Then do the same with the carrots. Leave a bit of space between the lines. Alternate between red peppers and carrots until the end.
Now comes the eggs. Place the eggs in a line, at the empty space before we arranged the first line of red peppers. Then carefully yet confidently, roll. Roll and roll tightly until the end. You can watch how to do this in the video below.
Once you have the meat rolled in a tightly log, it's time to tie and secure it. This is so that the fillings don't come out and the log maintain its shape. Use a kitchen twine and start tying from one end to the other. It doesn't matter how you tie it, just tie it tightly so that it's secured. You can also watch how I do this in the video above.
And then we will cook it.
Find a pot that's big enough to fit the rolled meat without having to bend it. My biggest pot almost almost fit my rolled meat. I did have to slightly bend it a bit. Well, no problem.
So fill half of the pot with water and add some salt and chicken bouillon powder. This is to give flavors to the rolled meat as we cook it. Back then people add in carrots, leeks and such in the water for the flavors. Well, bouillon powder is more convenient 😀
Bring the water to a boil. Then carefully place in the rolled meat. Fill the rest of the pot with hot water until the meat is totally submerged. It is very important that you totally submerge it during the entire cooking time to prevent it getting dark in color. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover the pot halfway through and cook for 1 hour. Add more hot water as needed.
After 1 hour, turn the heat off and cover the whole pot. Leave until the meat cools completely, inside the pot in the broth. Yes, it will take a few hours. Cooling the meat like this prevents it getting dry and dark.
After it has cooled completely, remove it from the pot and place it on a cling film. Wrap it tightly and keep it in the fridge until the next day. Yes, you serve it the day after. So the next day, simply remove the cling film and slice around 3/4 inch thickness. Don't slice it too thin because then the filling will fall out.
Well and then there's nothing more to do than enjoy! Do share if you've eaten this before and how's your version of it.
If you're interested in more of my Argentine recipes, maybe you would want to check these out:
Watch how to make matambre in the video below:
- 3.3 pound flank steak (1.5 kg)
- some salt
- some black pepper
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley (20 gr)
- 4 garlic cloves , chopped
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan (30 gr)
- 1/2 cup roasted sweet bell peppers (90 gr), in strips
- 3 medium sized carrots , boiled & cut into strips
- 4 hard boiled eggs
- 1 tsp salt , for the water
- 1 tbsp chicken bouillon powder , for the water
- water , enough to cover the meat
- Trim most of the fat. If there's any part that's thicker than the rest, slice and open it like a book so that the whole meat is more or less the same thickness. Place the meat, trimmed fat side up on the working surface and the part where you want to start rolling, nearest to you.
- Season the meat with some salt and black pepper.
- Leaving around 2 inches empty space, start by placing the roasted sweet bell pepper on the meat in a line, followed by the carrot strips. Leave some space between them. Continue making the vegetable lines until the end of the meat.
- Sprinkle chopped garlic and parsley evenly all over the meat, followed by grated parmesan.
- Place the boiled eggs in a line at the beginning of the meat, nearest to you. Grab the eggs with both hands, together with the meat and carefully roll it tightly into a log. Using a kitchen twine, start by tying one end of the rolled flank steak to secure it so the filling doesn't come out. Then continue tying the whole log tightly. Run the kitchen twine lengthwise also, just to double secure it. No matter how you do it, the objective is to tie the log tightly. Set aside.
- Fill a half a pot with water, vegetable bouillon powder, salt and bring it to a boil. Find a pot that's huge enough to fit the rolled flank steak without having to bend it. When the water is boiling, carefully place in the rolled flank steak inside the pot. Add more hot water into the pot until it covers the whole log. Cover the pot halfway with a lid, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Important note: The water level should always cover the whole log during the cooking time. Add more hot water as needed.
- After 1 hour, turn off the heat and fully cover the pot. Leave the rolled flank steak in the pot, in the broth, until it's completely cooled. This can take a few hours. Make sure the log is fully submerged in the broth. This will prevent it getting dry and turning dark.
- After it has completely cooled, remove from the pot and wrap it tightly with some cling films. Keep in the fridge overnight before slicing it. The next day, remove the cling films and slice the rolled flank steak in 3/4 inch thickness. Don't slice too thin as the filling might fall out. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!