You’ve got to like a recipe that translates into “hunger killer.” So be it with matambre, close to being a national dish in Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. It’s one versatile hunk of killer flank steak.

You’ve got to like a recipe that translates into “hunger killer.” So be it with matambre, close to being a national dish in Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.

It’s one versatile hunk of killer flank steak.

You can eat it as a hot main course or chill and slice it thin as a deli meat for appetizers.

Matambres can be found in formal banquets or in workers’ lunch pails. Some are smoked over wood to brown before poaching.

This stuff looks like brachole, Italian thin sliced beef stuffed with mushrooms and anything else you have hanging around in the crisper.

Flank at one time was considered junk beef, the cheapest of all cuts. It’s very lean. Lack of fat means you’re getting a lot of muscle here, and it takes muscle to chew it. Then came marinating. Flank steak benefited from this tenderizing and has been elevated to a first-rate cut of beef, with accompanying high price.

Matambre and brachole still are economical. The steak is butterflied and pounded, expanding its volume.

A 1 1/2-pound flanker will serve six.

The stuffing can be almost anything, including ham, sausage, mushrooms, boiled eggs and vegetables. Roll it up jelly-roll fashion.

You can bake the matambre or poach it. I bake in tomato sauce and poach in beef stock. Poaching is quickest at about 20 minutes.

It’s not surprising to find an Italian dish in South America. Over the centuries, Italians have fled there during their nation’s assorted upheavals and dictators, the last big movement sparked by World War II.

Steak is a favorite down there and plentiful. They have gauchos, we have cowboys. The mix with the Italian is a perfect marriage, served on top of pasta and tomato sauce.

MATAMBRE

Marinade:

1  1/2-pound flank steak
1/4 cup red wine or wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
dash of salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stuffing:

1 bunch spinach
2 carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
2 eggs, hard boiled, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced in thin rings
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

The night before, slice beef (butterfly) and lightly pound to flatten. Mix the marinade, pour over meat and cover and refrigerate over night.

Mix spinach, chopped egg and parsley. Stuff the butterflied steak, adding carrots and onion rings.

Roll up meat following the grain, jelly-roll fashion, and secure with string at two-inch intervals.

Brown meat in olive oil on all sides, then bake covered in the broth for 60 minutes at 375 degrees.

Arrange beef on a platter and snip the string. Pour some of the broth over it and slice into rounds, pinwheel fashion. If serving cold, slice very thinly.

Serves 4-6

Jim HIllibish writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.