I don’t know too many Argentineans, but none of the ones I know are vegetarian — which is why I usually skip the Capital Grille or any of the other overpriced steak-house chains whenever I get a serious craving for carne. At Argentinean restaurant Tango in Arlington, once you get past a couple of obligatory salads on the menu, there’s no piddling around with vegetable appetizers or side dishes. Diners are here for one thing only: meat. The vast menu offers more cuts than your average supermarket butcher knows these days — sirloin, filet, skirt, flank, short ribs — and that’s before you even hit the lamb, pork, chicken, and seafood sections of the menu. For those unable (or unwilling) to choose, their signature parrillada ($38 for two people) offers grilled short ribs juicy and tender enough that they’ll make you wonder why most other cuisines feel the need to braise them, smoky grilled chicken, rich beef kidneys, spicy pork chorizo and morcilla (a/k/a blood sausage), and the meatiest sweetbreads (molleja) you’ll ever have.
In French cuisine, sweetbreads are slow-cooked in large pieces to achieve a creamy, custard-like texture. Argentineans take a different approach. Slicing them into thin steaks and grilling them quickly reveals a firm, moist, almost liver-like texture, minus the metallic, mineral flavor that organ can often have. The molleja instead act as carrier for the intense flavor of the grill and boasts a crisp, salty, nearly blackened crust. It’s enough to make you order the parrillada for the sweetbreads alone. Fortunately, they’re also offered solo as an appetizer. Matching the sparseness of the vegetal offerings on the rest of the menu, the dish comes adorned with a single lemon wedge. It’s all that this perfect expression of a calf’s gland needs.
Available for $10.95 at Tango, 464 Mass Ave, in Arlington. Call 781.443.9000.
: Hot Plate
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