Grilling the Argentine Way

Francis Mallman is the author of Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way.

Seven Fires

Burnt Ricotta Salata, Tomatoes and Olives


Serves 6

1 tsp sugar
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves
12 oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup Kalamata olives
10 oz ricotta salata
2 small red chiles
Coarse salt
1/4 tsp crushed rep pepper flakes

Whisk together the sugar, red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the oregano in a bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss to coat.


Smash the olives with the side of a heavy knife and tear them open, removing the pits. Toss the olives and tomatoes together on a serving platter.


Break the ricotta salata into rough 1-inch pieces and place in a bowl. Halve the chiles, remove the seeds, and cut lengthwise into thin slices. Add the ricotta and toss with the remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil.


Heat a chapa (a flat piece of cast iron set over a fire) or large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add the ricotta and the chiles in batches, so they aren't crowded, and cook without moving for 5 to 10 seconds; as soon as you see the cheese charring on the bottom, remove the cheese and chiles and place the burnt side up over the tomatoes and olives. Sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.



Braided Beef with Anchovies and Olives


Serves 6

15 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 center-cut beef tender loin roast, at least 12 inches long, partially butterfied
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Crush the anchovies to a paste in a mortar (or pulse in a food processor). Chop half of the olives, and crush them together with the anchovies. Cut the fillet lengthwise into 3 long strips, stopping 1 inch from the end. Spread the anchovy mixture evenly along one side of each strip. Braid the meat tightly, tying it firmly together at the end with kitchen string. Use your palms to flatten the braid to an even thickness, then push any anchovy stuffing back into the braids. Brush the meat all over with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.


Brush a chapa (a flat piece of cast iron set over a fire) or large cast-iron griddle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the beef and cook without moving for 10 minutes, or until it is nicely browned on the first side. Turn the meat over and sear on the other side for about 6 minutes—the meat should be quite rare. Continue turning and cooking the meat until all the sides are seared and it is done to taste. Transfer the meat to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.


Meanwhile, lightly smash the remaining olives and place alongside the meat. The juices will run together.


Remove the string, carve the beef into thick slices, and season with pepper. Serve with olives and juices.