When translated literally the word ‘matambre’ is formed from two words – ‘matar’ and ‘hambre’. ‘Matar’ means to kill and ‘hambre’ means hunger. Therefore when we put the words together, ‘matambre’ literally means hunger killer– which is extremely true!
Matambre in Argentina is a cut of beef which is thin and comes from the cow’s belly. In the UK, the closest cut I can find in butchers is brisket, which although it is from a similar part of the cow, tends to be thicker than Argentine’s cut . Matambre is perfect to cook in different ways – it can be stuffed and rolled (matambre arrollado or also known as relleno (stuffed)), made into matambre a la pizza (the matambre is the ‘pizza’ and then it is roasted in the oven with pizza toppings) or roasted in the oven!
Matambre arrollado is a very popular main for Nochebuena (Christmas Eve which is the main Christmas celebration in Argentina) and it is often served with ensalada Rusa (literally translated to ‘Russian salad’ but essentially is potato salad). Traditionally matambre arrollado is steamed but it often also is oven roasted. As brisket is a thicker beef cut than Argentine matambre, I have oven roasted it rather than steamed it!
This will easily feed 6 people generously – perfect for Christmas!
For the matambre arrollado:
- 1kg good quality beef brisket (you can also use pork belly but ensure it is not overly fatty!)
- 4 hard boiled eggs
- 1/2 red pepper – sliced into thin slices
- 2 carrots – sliced into batons
- 100g baby spinach
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
For the chimichurri like sauce :
- 20g chopped fresh parsley
- 5 cloves of garlic – minced
- 60ml olive oil
- 1/8 tsp chilli flakes
For the ensalada Rusa (optional side):
- 1kg-1.5kg of Maris piper potatoes
- 3 carrots – cut into small cubes
- few handfuls of frozen peas
- 250g mayonnaise (use the good stuff – Hellmans!)
- salt and pepper
Making the chimichurri like sauce
- Ina small bowl, mix together the 5 minced garlic cloves with the olive oil, chopped fresh parsley, and chilli flakes.
Assembling and cooking the matambre arrollado
- Prepare the brisket by removing any extra fat from both sides of the brisket.
- Lay the matambre on a clean surface or piece of foil. If you are oven cooking (which I recommend for British brisket cuts), ensure the fattier side is on the outside and the leaner side on the inside – which you will fill. Season the matambre generously with salt and pepper.
- Start preheating the oven to 160 degree Celsius
- Use a brush to brush the chimichurri sauce all over the inside of the matambre
- Lay the spinach leaves (they do not have to be precooked) to cover the whole matambre. Place the 4 boiled eggs in a row and then add a row of carrot batons and red pepper slices.
6. Roll the matambre very tightly and ensure the sides are folded in. Use pieces of string to tie nots across the matambre to ensure that all parts of the matambre are contained in the roll.
7. Cover the matambre arrollado with any remaining chimichurri sauce.
8. Roll the matambre arrollado in metallic foil so that it is tightly contained in the foil.
9. Cook the matambre arrollado in the oven at 160 degree Celsius for 90 minutes. Afterwards, remove the matambre arrollado from the metallic foil and continue to cook at 180 degree Celsius for a further 20-30 minutes. The cooking time may vary depending on the size of the matambre.
10. Once the matambre arrollado is cooked, remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before cutting into slices.
Making the ensalada Rusa
- Peel the potatoes and carrots and cut both into small cubes. Bring both to the boil and cook for 15/20 minutes until they are soft (but not breaking apart).
- When potatoes and carrots are almost ready, add the frozen peas and cook for a few more minutes.
- Drain all the vegetables and allow to fully cool.
- In a bowl, season the potatoes, carrots and peas with salt and pepper and add plenty of mayonnaise |(be generous!) to make a lovely creamy ensalada Rusa.
I am sure you are going to absolutely love this recipe as it is an excellent alternative for Christmas or a special meal for your loved ones! I cannot wait to see your amazing takes on this Argentine classic!
Buen provecho 🙂