It's the long Memorial Day weekend, so between planting my vegetable garden and yard work, this tasty Paraguayan meal got made and DEVOURED by the menfolk who tromp around my house. The beef recipe, was pretty close to the American version of chicken fried steak, which holds a special place in the comfort food category my guys gravitate to. About the cornbread...as I write this up, I hear angels singing on high. How could something with eggs, cheese, onions, cornmeal and corn be anything but off the hook awesomeness? That was a rhetorical question if I ever asked one. Aside from being loaded with flavor and texture, when spread with (very) generous amounts of butter I made last week, this cornbread rocked my world. My beautiful (and I mean that literally as well as figuratively), Brazilian friend Juju and her husband were here hanging out last night, and she proclaimed this bread better than her mother's -- now that's a serious compliment. I planned to serve the steak and cornbread with a salad, but it was so good, we just cut up hunks and slices of meat and bread and chowed sitting at the butcher block.
Officially the Republic of Paraguay, this Latin American country is often referred to as the "Heart of America" due to being so centrally located. Bordered by Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, Paraguay gained independence from Spain in 1811. The country's official language is Spanish, and about 90% of the population speak Guarani. A little over 50% of the country are Mestizos (mixed European and Amerindian). The country's climate ranges from subtropical to temperate and so is home to a wide range of plants and animal species.
Cuisine in Paraguay varies somewhat by region, but throughout the country, cassava and corn are the basis for much of the food. Fruit, meat, vegetables, beef, rice, stewed chicken and pork are all part of the Guarani diet.
Sopa Paraguay (Cheesy Cornbread)
Milanesa (Breaded Fried Steak)
Milanesa - Breaded Fried Steak (Adapted from anngell.tripod.com)
2 lbs. beef (I used round steak)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup milk
flour for dredging
fine bread crumbs
oil for frying
Cut the steak in half horizontally, then pound each side until it's thin. Season.
Beat the eggs and add the milk and parsley.
Dredge the meat first in the flour, then the egg mixture, and then the bread crumbs.
Heat the oil in a heavy pan it's good and hot.
Fry until brown, turn and brown the other side (it doesn't take long at all)
Remove and keep hot while frying the remaining pieces.
Sopa Paraguaya - Cheesy Cornbread (Adapted from about.com)
6 Tbsp. butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 16 ounce bag of frozen white shoepeg corn (I used yellow corn)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups corn meal
1 cup salted queso fresco or farmers cheese, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
5 eggs, separated
Salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper
Melt the butter in a heavy skillet, then add chopped onions and saute until soft and golden brown.
Add the frozen corn and the evaporated milk and cook at a simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in the cornmeal and the cheese and mix well.
Stir in the egg yolks.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, until just barely mixed. It will look lumpy.
Spoon batter into the loaf pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and loaf springs back slightly to the touch.
Cool a wire rack, then slice and serve as is or with butter.