BUENOS AIRES – It’s not easy to be a vegetarian in Argentina. Known for its delicious cuts of meat and one of the world leaders in per capita beef consumption, is the meat capital of the world experiencing a beef revolution?
The most popular cuts of meat eaten today are those used to make Milanese (wiener schnitzel) – tenderloin or rump steak. Next come the sirloin and strip loin, short ribs and flank steak. What do all of these cuts have in common? Well, these are the most expensive cuts. So lately chefs from all over Argentina have been trying to bring other cheaper cuts fashionable.
Standing above a hot pan, Fernando Trocca, owner of Sugar, a state-of-the-art restaurant in Buenos Aires, puts a piece of veal shank in it, looks at the camera and says “I like it.” Osso Buco. ”
Trocca has been using veal shanks for 20 years now. âIt’s a great cut if you know how to cook it properly. These days it’s hard to make money in the restaurant industry, so when designing a menu you have to be smart and know how to use the cheapest cuts in order to achieve a reasonable profit margin, â he said.
For some restaurateurs, it’s a question of numbers, for others its snobbery. What is true, however, is that many chefs are now paddling upstream and using older, cheaper cuts.
Meat for health or for wealth?
Food critic Pietro Sorba reaffirms that Argentines are effectively reducing the amount of beef in their diet. Thanks to rising prices and busy schedules, they are eating more pork and chicken.
âPeople are looking for cuts of meat that are less fatty and do not require long and complicated preparation. In general, consumers are looking for beef that is dark red in color, with little fatty marbling, âhe writes in his book. New Argentinian cuisine.
Piaf is a butcher’s shop in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires that also sells to great restaurants. Manager Florencia Crucci boasts that the store still sells all cuts of meat, from the chuck blade to the feet. She explains that although the trend is slow, hocks are definitely experiencing a revival. But it’s not a question of fashion, she continues, it’s because of the capacity of the wallet – shanks cost around $ 5.39 per kilogram while tenderloin costs $ 15.20.
âOne of the problems is that people don’t know how or don’t have time to cook properly. For veal shanks to be tasty, you need to leave them for at least 2 hours, âshe says.
Butcher Majan’s Diego Salas agrees: Ossobuco may be selling like hot cakes lately, but it’s still not worth a steak.