The Expat Dilemma: What to Eat on Independence Day Abroad
I have mostly fond memories of Independence Day. Every year my family would trek to my Aunt and Uncle’s house where they were in charge of a bake sale for their small beach community. As was tradition with that side of the family, the children were put to work while the adults pretended that their sprites weren’t laced with anything. Who am I kidding, no one was pretending. The kids couldn’t care less; we got to wear adult-sized red aprons (we’re important!) and were allowed to feast on as many hot dogs, brownies, chips and sodas that we could get our stubby little fingers on.
This is where the fondness begins to trickle. One year my cousin Thomas and I engaged in a very male game of one upmanship. He ate two hot dogs, I ate three. He had another, so did I. One thing lead to another and by the end of the day Thomas had beaten me 14 to 10. The next year I was determined to win. I built it up all year long. I arrived that morning, stomach empty, prepared to start eating hot dogs at 10am. Thomas was a no show. I reasoned that he was afraid of losing his title, he was actually just sick (read: with fear).
The contest commenced in his absence, and over the course of the day I ate 16 hot dogs, one more than necessary just to be sure. And this was during my picky pre-pubescent phase, so no ketchup, mustard or relish, just boiled hot dog and bun, which became drier as the day progressed. Later in the day I enjoyed neither the sand castle contest nor the fireworks, and I definitely did not eat any smores at the bonfire. The day got continuously greener until it all came to a head at about midnight when I got all Linda Blair on my aunt’s guest bathroom.
But I digress.
We’re here to talk 4th of July recipes. And what better time than overcast, Buenos Aires winter to brainstorm!
A few months ago I started buying chicken wings. You can get a kilo for less than 10 pesos and the carnicero is generally so happy that someone takes them off his hands that you’re guaranteed to get some extraalitas thrown in. This coincided with a very sudden obsession with figuring out what was my barbecue sauce. What screams red, white and blue more than barbecue sauce?
Over the course of a month I merged various recipes until I had a thick sweet and spicy sauce, which will surely continue to evolve. Lucky for you all, this is actually two recipes in one, since you will need to make a jalapeño salsa especially for this sauce.
Let’s begin with the jalapeño salsa. I have suddenly noticed jalapeños everywhere. It is safe to say you will find them in Barrio Chino, but I’ve also found them in Coto and random verdulerias.
You will need 6 jalapeños, 10 cloves of garlic, ¼ cup lemon juice and ½ cup vegetable oil.
Roast the jalapeños and garlic until jalapeños are blackened and garlic is soft. Remove from heat, remove garlic skin and jalapeño stems. I like my salsa dirty so I leave all of the jalapeño seeds intact, red jalapeños are generally hotter than green ones. Throw the jalapeños, garlic and lemon juice into blender. Blend while slowly adding the vegetable oil. I like to double the recipe to use throughout the week on pretty much everything.
For the barbecue sauce you will need to combine 1 cup of ketchup, ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup honey, 6 stemmed serrano chiles (again, I leave the seeds), 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp each of chilli powder, soy sauce, canola, ground mustard, black pepper and worchestershire sauce, and 2 tbsp of your freshly blended jalapeño sauce. Mix ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat for about 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened, stirring regularly to avoid burning. Remove from heat.
Clean and clip the wings, arrange in baking dish and cook in oven heated to 375 degrees. On my Argentine oven, that’s about 8 o’clock, adjust accordingly. Place wings in a baking dish and bake in oven for 45 minutes, flipping once.
Drain excess juices from your dish and coat both sides of the wings with sauce. Bake for another ten minutes. This is enough sauce for about 2 kilos of wings.
The honey and the brown sugar are the perfect compliments to the Serrano and the jalapeño sauce. That first bite is sweet on the tongue with a slow spicy burn that catches up at the back of the throat. Get out the paper towels and tell your Argentine friends to be conservative, its sauce that should be cleaned with your mouth and not inefficient paper. Besides, that stuff is expensive and my friends tend to exaggerate anyway. I think we went through an entire roll – I maybe used three sheets.
Look at your wings and bask in the glory. Let yourself whisper a quiet “AMURICA”. Go on, this is no time to be shy. You just made homemade barbecue sauce; you can do anything you want for the rest of the day.
Kevin is the Founder and Creative Genius of MASA Club de Tacos – a Buenos Aires Supper Club concept that serves up the most delicious tacos south of Tapachula.