Tango with exotic flavors as Central Market celebrates all things Argentina

Beginning Wednesday, culinary Cowtown meets authentic Argentina in Central Market's two-week celebration of the country's bicentennial, called "Passport to Argentina."

The culture, food and wine of this South American nation will fill the Fort Worth and Southlake stores until May 25.

The party will include demonstrations and tastings with some of Argentina's top chefs (including Francis Mallmann and Narda Lepes of El Gourmet), happy hours with the country's venerated vintners, tango demonstrations and a street market. Learn to make savory and sweet South American dishes in hands-on cooking classes, or grab a partner and get in on a "couples grilling" or tango class.

Food lovers will be treated to special dishes with Latin flavor in the Chef's Case, and limited-time Argentina imports, including deli meats, olives and chocolate-dipped alfajores cookies.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit or contact the stores in Southlake (1425 E. Southlake Blvd., 817-310-5600) or Fort Worth (4651 West Freeway, 817-989-4700).

Here, recipes for a few of the Argentina-flavored items that will be available during the festival, courtesy of Central Market.

Steaks a la parilla with chimichurri

The clean flavor of grass-fed beef combined with a fresh blend of herbs makes for a beefy steak that feels like a light meal.

Serves 4


4 grass-fed steaks, 10-12 ounces each (rib-eyes or strip)

Coarse salt


Chimichurri sauce:

1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 cup fresh oregano

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup water

1 tablespoon sea salt

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1. Sprinkle the steaks with coarse salt and a touch of pepper. Use a hardwood or charcoal grill for best results. Start over hot coals and move to lower heat until medium rare. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

2. To make chimichurri, mince and combine parsley, oregano, garlic and pepper flakes. Mix in water and salt and let rest for 30 minutes. Add olive oil and vinegar, and mix well.

Serve steaks with chimichurri sauce. Store sauce overnight in a cool place in a sealed jar. The sauce can last a few weeks if refrigerated.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 739 calories, 53 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 59 grams protein, 139 milligrams cholesterol, 1,542 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 66 percent of calories from fat.

Beef empanadas

A traditional Argentine dish, this delicious pastry is stuffed with beef and many other accenting ingredients.

Makes 10 servings


4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons cold lard

3 tablespoons sugar

6 egg yolks, lightly beaten

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups water


3 medium hard-boiled eggs

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Central Market Organics olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 pound Central Market Premium Choice Angus ground beef or 1 pound finely chopped cooked skirt steak

2 tablespoons raisins

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped pimiento-stuffed olives

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 small green onions, sliced thinly, only the white part

1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons juice

4 cups vegetable oil

1. Make pastry: Sift flour and baking powder together. Cut lard into flour until mixture forms a coarse meal. Mound mixture on a cookie sheet and make a well in the center. Mix sugar and eggs thoroughly and pour this mixture into flour well, meshing flour into egg mixture with a fork. Salt water lightly and add to mixture gradually, just until the dough holds together; discard unused water. Remove dough from the cookie sheet. Stretch or roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 6-inch rounds. Cover with a damp towel and chill in the refrigerator until ready to fill.

2. Make filling: Cut each egg crosswise into 10 thin slices. Cook onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

Add raisins, olives, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes; stir in onions and saute 1 minute more. Add tomatoes with reserved juice, then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist, about 5 minutes. Spread on plate to cool.

3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees with rack placed in center of oven. Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on a dampened work surface (helps to keep plastic in place), then roll out an empanada disk on plastic wrap to measure about 5 inches. Place 3 tablespoons meat mixture on disk and top with 2 slices of egg. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp with fork. Follow process to make more.

4. Heat 3/4 inch vegetable oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium heat until it registers 360 degrees. Fry empanadas, 2 or 3 at a time, turning once, until crisp and golden, 4 to 6 minutes per batch.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 545 calories, 32 grams fat, 47 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams protein, 224 milligrams cholesterol, 498 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 54 percent of calories from fat.

Ham and cheese tartas

While Central Market makes a large tarta for slicing and serving, you can try your hand at these individual-size tartas.

Makes about 12 tarts


3 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon salt

10 ounces salted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons water


1 pound smoked cooked ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (try Central Market All-Natural Hickory Smoked Ham)

1 pound fontina cheese, grated

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Make dough: Place flour and salt in mixing bowl. Add butter and blend with a pastry blender or the tips of your fingers. Make a well in the center of flour mix and add eggs and water. Work dough until smooth. Let rest, refrigerated for about 1 hour.

Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into a 1/8-inch thick layer. Cover individual pie pans (about 4-inch diameter) with dough and let rest until ready to fill and cook.

2. Make filling: Toss all ingredients together and set aside.

3. Assemble and bake: In a 350-degree oven, partly cook the tartlets about 6 minutes. Distribute filling in the tartlets and finish cooking until the cheese has melted and formed a golden crust and the borders of the dough are golden. Serve warm or at room temperature with a fresh-mix green salad with cherry tomatoes and finely sliced onions.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 579 calories, 37 grams fat, 25 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams protein, 153 milligrams cholesterol, 2,115 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 65 percent of calories from fat.