The Uruguayans and their sandwiches. I mean, everybody has their regional pride equated to sandwiches: The Germans have their Bavarian Ham Sandwich, the Swedes have their shrimp sandwich called räksmörgås, and so forth.
But the Chivito is something that should be closer to my heart, being from Argentina and all, but for some reason it wasn’t. Maybe because we have our own incredibly delicious Argentine sandwich variants like the Choripan or Sandwich de Miga (will need to write a post on those on a later note).
But what can we tell about the palate of the Uruguayans when their national dish is a monstrous sandwich of simple brilliance? For one, it’s memorable for the variety of ingredients and its ridiculously nice taste.
Secondly, how much do they have to love the Chivito, that even though it’s a bad business model – because of the huge amount of ingredients – you can find restaurants all over the country serving them?
It’s true: The Chivito is beyond decadence, but a real pillar of society in Uruguay and one of the most famous sandwiches in South America.
The Origin of the Sandwich
During researching, the info I gathered led me to think of the origins of the Reuben sandwich. I love sandwiches where you can trace its origins way back, and the Chivito isn’t an exception. Of course, Argentina played a part in it…
Antonio Carbonada, a chef in Punta del Este, had an Argentine customer come by regularly. The year was 1946. One day she asked for her favorite sandwich made with goat (chivito in Rioplatense Spanish). Since there was no goat around, Antonio had to improvise and threw together whatever he had around—steak, ham, cheese, lettuce, and mayonnaise—and the chivito was born. Whether the regular felt fooled and never returned to chef Carbonada’s eatery is not known but on that day he created a national dish, and the Uruguayan sandwich-eating public never looked back.
The chivito is very similar to the “lomito completo” a popular street-cart fast food from Argentina. Also built on a roll, the filling consists of fillet mignon in 1/4″ slices, ham, and cheese slices, lettuce, tomatoes, all topped with a fried egg and served with French fries.
Basic parts of the sandwich:
A fried egg
You can never get a dish that’s deemed “national” without finding a hundred variations of it, and you could say the same about this sandwich. Broken down to its essentials, though, the sandwich is made of a thin piece of beef, often skirt steak (churrasco) topped with melted mozzarella cheese, grilled or pan fried red pepper, bacon, ham, egg (either boiled or fried), lettuce, tomato, sliced onions, mayonnaise, sliced pickles and olives on a bread roll.
The two principal variants are the chivito canadiense (Canadian chivito) which substitutes Canadian-style bacon for the crispier kind, and the chivito al plato, which basically is all the typical ingredients without the bun. Goes without saying that we won’t even bother to go deeper into the details when you can’t eat it with your hands.
All in all, this Uruguayan sandwich is a decadent-as-hell sandwich that everybody should try at least once. (starting a chivito diet is not recommended)