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Barbecue, Chilean style: slow-cooked on your backyard grill, beef brisket makes an easy entree

Barbecue, Chilean style: slow-cooked on your backyard grill, beef brisket makes an easy entree – Food: Summer Entertaining

Jerry Anne Di Vecchio

I went to Chile to taste wines, and fell in love with the gracious tradition of dining in the vineyards. We set out one sunny morning on horseback through the Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Just as the heat of the day peaked, we came to a shady eucalyptus grove, where wisps of smoke hinted at cooking.

On a barbecue grill, plump empanadas were heating; on a spit surrounded by low coals, slabs of fresh brisket were turning; and a nearby table was laden with Light vegetable salads, crusty breads, and a platter of local fruit, including pale green, purple-streaked pepinos–a South American relative of tomatoes, available at specialty markets here. The setting itself was a relative of our own wine country; the meal would be perfectly at home in the West.

It was so simple and laced with make-ahead possibilities that I’ve added it to my roster of easy-entertaining menus. The brisket, a cut of beef we usually braise for tenderness, yields firm but juicy, flavorful slices when cooked over very low heat on a gas barbecue. Or, for quick results, grill flank steak instead. Allow about 1 cup of sliced fruit per person for dessert. As for wines, I recommend the Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon from those vineyards we traversed, owned by the Undurraga family, who have been making wine for more than 100 years. Their wines are available in some wine shops here.

Chicken and cheese empanadas

PREP AND COOK TiME: About 45 minutes

NOTES: You can make the filling for these appetizer pastries (through step 2) up to 1 day before using; cover and chill. You can make the empanadas up to 1 day before serving; let cool, wrap airtight, and chill. Unwrap and reheat on a baking sheet in a 3250 oven for 20 minutes.

MAKES: 6 or 8 empanadas

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cooked

boned, skinned chicken

1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

2 tablespoons drained chopped

pimientos (2-oz. jar) or chopped

roasted red peppers

2 tablespoons minced onion

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese,

cut into small chunks

Salt

2 packages (10 oz. each) refrigerated

pizza crust dough

1 large egg

1. In a bowl, mix chicken with Swiss cheese, pimientos, onion, and pepper.

2. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan, mix broth with cornstarch. Add cream cheese. Whisk over high heat until mixture is boiling (it will be very thick), 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape over chicken mixture and combine well, adding salt to taste.

3. On a lightly floured board, unroll pizza crust dough. Cut each rectangle crosswise into thirds, for six empanadas, or quarters, for eight pastries. On one end of each piece of dough, mound about 5 tablespoons chicken mixture if making six pastries, about 3 tablespoons for eight. Fold other end of dough over filling to form a rectangle, then fold edges together and pinch to seal.

4. Gently place empanadas, slightly apart, on an oiled 12- by 15-inch baking sheet (you’ll need two for eight pastries). In a small bowl, beat egg to blend. Brush generously over each pastry.

5. Bake in a 3750 regular or convection oven until empanadas are very richly browned, 22 to 25 minutes (10 to 12 in convection oven). Transfer to a rack and let cool at least 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Per empanada: 295 cal., 28% (82 cal.) from fat; 19 g protein; 9.1 g fat (4 g sat.); 35 g carbo (1.1 g fiber); 773 mg sodium; 67 mg chol.

Grilled Salted Beef Brisket or Flank Steak

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 5 hours for brisket, 15 minutes for flank steak, plus at least 2 hours to chill in salt

NOTES: A gas barbecue works best to maintain low, even heat to slow-cook the brisket, but for the flank steak use either gas or charcoal. One side of the brisket should be trimmed of all fat, the other side covered with a layer no more than 1/8 inch thick.

MAKES: 8 servings

1 rectangular piece fresh beef brisket

(2 1/2 to 3 1b., max. 1 1/2 in. thick;

see notes) or 2 beef flank steaks

(2 1/2 to 3 lb. total)

2 tablespoons kosher or coarse salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Rinse meat and rub salt evenly onto all sides. Cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours. Rinse meat well and pat dry. Rub all over with oil.

2. To cook brisket, turn a gas grill to high, close lid, and heat for 10 minutes. Turn off all but one perimeter burner and reduce heat to medium or low to maintain a temperature of 225[degrees] to 250[degrees] (check with a grill thermometer or external barbecue thermometer, and open lid as needed to let temperature drop during cooking). Lay brisket, fat side down, on grill as far from flame as possible. Close lid and cook, turning brisket about every 1 1/2 hours, until meat pierces easily with a sharp knife (it will be firm but not hard) and is lightly browned, 5 to 5 1/2 hours total.

To cook flank steak, lay meat on a barbecue grill over a solid bed of hot coals or direct high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 2 to 3 seconds); close lid if using a gas grill. Cook, turning once, until flank steaks are done to your liking (cut to test), 7 to 9 minutes total for medium-rare.

3. Transfer meat to a platter and let stand at least 5 minutes. Cut into thin slices.

Per serving of flank steak: 265 cal., 54% (144 cal.) from fat; 27 g protein; 16 g fat (6 g sat.); 0 g carbo; 329 mg sodium; 71 mg chol.

Sweet Corn and Onion Salad

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 15 minutes

NOTES: You can make this simple salad up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Sprinkle it with chopped chives and thin slivers of lemon peel for garnish.

MAKES: 6 to 8 servings

1 cup finely chopped onion

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons sugar

Salt and pepper

1. In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, stir chopped onion in oil until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add corn and broth; stir until liquid is evaporated, 8 to 9 minutes. Pour into a bowl and add lemon juice, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cool.

Per serving: 160 cal., 37% (59 cal,) from fat; 4.5 g protein; 6.5 g fat (0.8 g sat.); 25 g carbo (4 g fiber); 24 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Petite Peas with Greens

PREP TIME: 7 to 8 minutes

MAKES: 6 to 8 servings

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 cups frozen petite peas, thawed

2 cups finely slivered romaine

lettuce leaves

Salt and pepper

1. In a small bowl, mix sour cream, mayonnaise, and vinegar.

2. In a bowl, mix peas and lettuce. Stir dressing into vegetables and add salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 75 cal., 53% (40 Cal.) from fat; 2.8 g protein; 4.4 ?? fat (1.4 g sat.); 8.4 g carbo (3 g fiber); 87 mg sodium; 5.2 rog chol.

Avocado, Tomato, and Romaine Salad

PREP TIME: About 15 minutes

NOTES: You can assemble this salad (step 1)and make the dressing (step 2) up to 4 hours ahead. Cover salad and chill; cover dressing and let stand at room temperature.

MAKES: 6 to 8 servings

1 firm-ripe avocado (8 oz.), pitted

and peeled

About 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

or balsamic vinegar

4 cups bite-size pieces romaine

lettuce leaves

1 tomato (9 to 10 oz.), rinsed, cored,

peeled (if desired), and cut into

wedges

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

About 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper

1. Thinly slice avocado and arrange slices along one side of a wide, shallow bowl; brush lightly with vinegar. Mound lettuce in center of bowl, and arrange tomatoes opposite the avocado.

2. In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons vinegar, olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

3. Pour dressing over salad; mix gently at the table, adding pepper and more salt to taste.

Per serving: 91 cal., 85% (77 cal.) from fat; 1.1 g protein; 8.6 g fat (1.3 g sat.); 4.1 g carbo (1.39 fiber); 152 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

RELATED ARTICLE: Chilean picnic for 6 to 8

Chicken and Cheese Empanadas

Grilled Salted Beef Brisket or Flank Steak

Sweet Corn and Onion Salad Petite Peas with Greens

Avocado, Tomato, and Romaine Salad

Country-style Hearth-baked Breads

Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon

Sliced-Fruit Platter: Pineapple, Oranges, Apples, Pepinos, and Grapes Splashed with Orange Liqueur

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