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Matambre

This recipe may sound complicated, but it can be assembled in 15 minutes. Although it calls for flank steak, Steven Raichlen has also made it with brisket. If you're not comfortable with your knifemanship, ask your butcher to butterfly the meat.

1 flank steak (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds)
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
6-ounce piece of Romano cheese
6-ounce piece of kielbasa
2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cooled (optional)
1 long carrot, trimmed and peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon each dried oregano and sage
6 thin slices of bacon

Set the grill up for direct grilling, and preheat to medium-low.

Butterfly the flank steak: Place the steak at the edge of a cutting board, short side toward you. Using a long slender knife, butterfly the meat, that is cut it almost in half through the narrow edge of the long side and open it up as you would a book. Pound it flat with the side of a meat cleaver. The idea is to obtain a square of meat that's 12 to 15 inches long and wide.

Core and seed peppers, and cut into 1/2-inch strips. Cut cheese and kielbasa lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Cut eggs lengthwise in quarters. Cut the carrots lengthwise in quarters. Arrange the bacon strips, leaving 1 inch between each, on a large (24- by 24-inch) rectangle of heavy duty foil. (The strips should run parallel to bottom edge of cutting board.) Place flank steak on top of the bacon, so that the grain of the meat runs parallel to the bacon.

Generously season the meat with salt and pepper and sprinkle with oregano and sage. Arrange strips of kielbasa in a neat row, end to end, along the edge of the meat closest to you. Place a row of red bell pepper strips next to it. Then a row of cheese strips, then carrot strips, then green bell pepper strips, then hard-cooked eggs. Repeat the process until all the ingredients for the filling are used up. Leave the last 3 inches of meat, uncovered.

Starting at the edge closest to you and using the foil to help you, roll up the meat with the filling to make a compact roll. (It's a lot like rolling a jellyroll.) Pin the top edge shut with metal skewers, or tie the matambre closed with a few lengths of butcher's string. Encase the roll in foil, twisting the ends to make what will look like a large sausage. Poke a few holes in the foil at each end to release the steam.

Place the matambre over the heat, and cook until very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turning often. If it starts to burn, reduce the heat to low, or move the matambre to a portion of the grill with no coals under it. To test for doneness, insert a metal skewer. It should pierce the meat easily and be piping hot to the touch. Transfer the matambre to a cutting board, and let cool for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and skewers or string. Cut the roll width-wise into 1-inch slices.

Serves 8 as an appetizer, 4 as a main course.

Sunday, September 24, 2000



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