It’s no secret that Ramsey spends lots of travel time in kitchens visited, because that’s usually the best place to get true tastes of local culture as well as food. In today’s episode, he meets with chef Facundo Jurado Esquivel, who serves up “5 meals daily” to Las Flores guests. Facu shares a few recipes and cooking techniques, telling Ramsey how he got into hunting, cooking and how longboarding downhill through Patagonia’s mountains earned him a spot on the olympic team. Why he thinks food brings hunters together and what compelled a 30 year-old man into longboarding are damned good food for thought. Enjoy!
Hunting in Argentina During COVID?
You all couldn’t even go outside to hunt or fish.
Ramsey Russell: And welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, I am in Argentina, sitting in the kitchen at Las Flores. Have you’ll notice, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, not my own, but usually somebody else’s because when you travel around, especially when you get down to other parts of the world, if you really want to get a taste of what the people and the culture are like, go to the kitchen it’s what they serve you, it’s what they serve you on the food. A lot of the places we hunt down here in Argentina, I describe as mama’s cooking it, home cooking it, it’s soul food, think of it as Argentina soul food, comfort food, that’s what hits home with me. If I want all that French stuff, I’ll go to France, go to Italy, I want to eat real food. A few years ago before COVID, I met today’s guest, Facundo Esquivel, that’s right. And we call him Facu, you got to be careful how you say that in America. And he and I become good friends, we’ve done a few little videos on social media together, I love the way he cooks, he puts his heart and soul into everything he does. And anyway, I want you all to meet chef Facu Esquivel, how are you, chef?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: I’m real good, Ramsey, real good. Working here again, 2 years with nothing to do except be at home.
Ramsey Russell: How did it feel? Because for me, it was 32 months gone from Argentina and it was a 32 months of, I don’t know how to explain it, it was just like my world was different all of a sudden. And how did you spend the time down in Argentina? I mean, because you were busy with this, you were busy with an athletic career and what did you do?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, it was very difficult because when COVID started here in Argentina, the government closed everything for one year. You only can go back home to buy some stuff, some food and that’s all, nothing of going hunting, nothing of fishing, nothing.
Ramsey Russell: You all couldn’t even go outside to hunt or fish.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Nothing. If you go outside –
Ramsey Russell: Go skate board or bicycle or exercise or walk or nothing.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Nothing.
Ramsey Russell: What about out here in the country, I understand, like Buenos Aires City. But what about out here in the country?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, here I feel amazing.
Ramsey Russell: But I mean, out here in the country were you all still like, you have to stay inside your building.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah. Where I live, I have a lot of places to go, even I have a river to catch some trout 4 blocks than my home. But the government says no, nothing goes home because we have pandemics, it was a real disaster because we have a lot of people death for that disease. One year of being like a prisoner at your home, basically.
Ramsey Russell: That’s how Diego described it. He described it like, kind of like a home arrest the way Argentina handled it. And I guess in places in the United States, it was kind of like that, it wasn’t quite like it, it seemed like, I can remember when we were “sheltered in place like primitive cave men” couldn’t leave, couldn’t do nothing except go to Walmart and get some grocery. But other than that, you were stuck at home, everything was closed, nothing was going on.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, it was very difficult.
Ramsey Russell: But I think Argentina, it was a long time, it was like that. How did you entertain yourself? What did you do?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, what I trying to do is keep my head busy because I’m not used to be in my home, I’m always in the forest or going to the river, go fishing, go hunting every day, every single day and suddenly no more. So, I buy a little homemade beer equipment and I start to make my own beer, I made my own beer.
Ramsey Russell: You didn’t bring that, did you?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: No, my wife sold all the liquors I have before I came here, all the guys told me, hey, why are you talking about your beer? And you don’t bring me one.
Ramsey Russell: That’s what I’m thinking now.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: They are making a lot of shocks to me.
From Skateboarder to Chef: A Journey of Passion and Skill
You are an Olympian skateboarder doing 80 something miles an hour down a mountain to cooking.
Ramsey Russell: I’m going to start like this because you got a tattoo on your arm that says long board, that ain’t Spanish, it’s in English, it says long board.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Long board, it’s like, a big skate, what I do is downhill skateboarding.
Ramsey Russell: Now wait a minute by big skateboard, we’re talking about as long as my arm.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: That’s right. Big wheels of 176 centimeters like this. Big wheels, more fast. Even you have some ceramic, I don’t know the word in English, the inside of the wheels, with that bearing you can get a lot of speed.
Ramsey Russell: Now, see here in Buenos Aires Province it’s pretty flat like the Mississippi Delta, you’re not from here?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: No, where I live there is a lot of mountains, pine trees.
Ramsey Russell: You’re in Patagonia which is a lot like Colorado is what I’m trying to think of, mountains.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Even there is a river that many people who came from United States, it’s called Collón Curá River, they say it is very similar to Colorado River.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. I’ve never been to Patagonia, but that’s what it strikes me as. How long have you been going downhill on a skateboard, on a big skateboard? I mean, I’m thinking on the side of a mountain. Like, when you start at the top, how long does it take you to get to the bottom when you stop?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, it depends on the long of the place you practice. But there are some places where I live that I get more than 120 kilometers per hour, almost like a car going real fast.
Ramsey Russell: That’s a little over 80 miles an hour on a skateboard. How many minutes are from the top to finish going 80 miles an hour down? Like, I don’t go 80 miles an hour down hill in Colorado, I’m assuming there’s a lot of curves and wrap around the hills and stuff.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, where I live, we have a lot of curves and you must know what you’re going to do entering in a curve because you can really hurt, you can get it real hurt.
Ramsey Russell: I’m guessing so at 80 miles an hour.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: That’s what I stopped to practice before the season because I want to be in an excellent – I want to keep my body safe.
Ramsey Russell: You don’t want to break, no bone.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: No break. Oh, yeah. A lot of ribs, one arm. One time I hit a car, a person came driving in the wrong way, I was practicing.
Ramsey Russell: How long have you been doing that?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: I’m doing this for 7 years and this year, one week ago, some people of the association who see this sport in Argentina, they told me, okay, you win a lot of races, you now are in the Olympic team. So, I am an Olympic athletic.
Ramsey Russell: You are an Olympian skateboarder doing 80 something miles an hour down a mountain. Are you a hippie?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Kind of.
Ramsey Russell: Are you adrenaline junkie?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: No.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, adrenaline, excitement.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, I love it.
Ramsey Russell: That’s like jumping out of an airplane or something to me.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, in pandemic, I want to do that with a parachute and all that, but I couldn’t, but I love adrenaline a lot. It’s like, keep me calm when I do that, I feel happy.
Ramsey Russell: Focused under pressure. How old are you?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: I’m 37 years old.
Ramsey Russell: So, what compelled a 30 year old man, which is a grown adult to get on a 3ft skateboard and go 80 miles an hour down the side of a mountain.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: That’s right.
Ramsey Russell: Why? Did your friend do it, did somebody say, hey, let’s come try this? Or you just say one day and say, I think I’m going to do it, hold my beer, I’m going to do this.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, my friend say, Facu, you are crazy. You are jumping in a piece of wood, that speed, you’re fucking crazy, man, I can’t believe it.
Ramsey Russell: I think you’re crazy. I asked Diego the other day who’s up for all kinds of stuff, I said, I didn’t understand 80 miles an hour, I’m like, man, he skateboarded. I said, you do it with him? And he looked at me like, are you crazy? He said, I might, he said, I might be able to keep up with him in a car, but I doubt it. I mean, because you’re hauling butt down there, man.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah. And I get really hard sometimes, but I have all the protections. I have a leather suit, a helmet for my head, but you always can fall.
Ramsey Russell: You were telling me the other day that you’ve traveled outside of Argentina doing some of these competitions. Where have you been doing these skateboard competitions?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, mostly in Chile, I went one time to, there is some places that you can broke the Guinness record, I went the best place, the best place I ever raced was in Brazil in a place called Tiftonia.
Ramsey Russell: Mountain? Best because it was a steep mountain?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: It’s a mount of 40° and you accelerate really fast real fast. The first time I was in the top looking the bottom and say, oh my God, I have to do this, I can’t believe it.
Ramsey Russell: Have you ever been like midway like hitting 80 miles an hour and you said to yourself, uh-oh. I mean, if you ever just like, said – because I’m imagining you can’t stop at 80 miles an hour, you get somewhere toward the bottom.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, you have to know very well what you do because in that velocities entering a corner, you must see, where are you going to take the corner? How you go out of the corner? Because you have to deal with all the sheer force, I don’t know how to say it. It’s same like a car when you go fast and you do this, you go to the other side and it’s very difficult, you need a lot of strength in the legs, being very good.
Ramsey Russell: Because there’s really no way to do a practice run. I mean, you might can drive up it and drive down it, but once you’re on a skateboard it’s real time and that curve is approaching at 80 miles an hour.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: What I do is break a little bit, not too much. It’s almost like, if you were driving like a race car, you take the car for the inside, you go for the outside, it’s the same thing. But you don’t have a safety belt or anything, it’s only you and what you are going to do.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. I can tell you what I’m going to do, I’m not going to do it, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to not go 80 miles an hour on a skateboard. Matter of fact, I got a buddy that showed up one day with a cast on his arm, he’s a grown man like me, I mean, what happened there? He goes, well, I got my kid skateboard or something for Christmas and thought I’m going to show him how an old man can hang with him. He said, I put one foot on and I left my other foot to put it on, skateboard went one way and I went the other and he broke his arm, that’d be me. I was going to ask you how you got into cooking. But first I want to talk about, you hunt and fish too down in Patagonia, we were talking the other day, just got back with a client, we went stag hunting first, we shot some stag, we brought 3 red stag over here and you’ve been cooking up some delicious stag, we’re going to talk about here in a minute. But you stag hunt?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah.
The World of Argentina Stag Hunting
But my father told me that a man must know how to do everything because you never know when you are going to lost in the forest and he teach me, the print of the animals, the smells of the deers and everything, how to hunt, where to expect the animals, and everything.
Ramsey Russell: How did you get into Stag hunting? How did you get into hunting?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, my father, when I was young, now we don’t have the need to go hunting because you can go to a store and buy the meat and everything. But my father told me that a man must know how to do everything because you never know when you are going to lost in the forest and he teach me, the print of the animals, the smells of the deers and everything, how to hunt, where to expect the animals, and everything.
Ramsey Russell: Have you killed stag before, you killed them? What else do you hunt?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Stags and well, when I here with Diego, sometimes I can go hunt some ducks, I love hunting ducks because I’m not used to a shotgun.
Ramsey Russell: But you just started out when you started becoming a chef here at Las Flores. How does that compare to your stag hunting?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, I prefer duck hunting because a lot of shooting. But with the deer or the wild boar, it’s only one shoot and that’s all because you cannot kill a lot, you must came with the animals in your back, that’s what I say to my friend, he’s really good to go hunting. But when you have to came with what you kill in the back, that’s not good.
Ramsey Russell: You have to go in and out to get all that meat out to the truck, that probably keeps you in shape for your skateboarding, doesn’t it? Or vice versa. Maybe your skateboarding keeps you in shape for hiking through those Patagonia mountains chasing stag, which is what I would think so. Do you have to condition yourself for all that extreme skateboarding?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, I train a lot. I’m running, I go to the gym, I do a diet and nothing of alcohol and right now I’m not drinking anything. Well, the last season in 2019, I drink one beer at the night when I finish my job. But now, I want to be good, I stopped to do a lot of things with these pandemics. I changed a lot and many things inside me changed.
Ramsey Russell: Like what? Because I think we all did.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: I’m more calm, I’m not too crazy as two years ago that I says, okay, Diego, let’s go hunting, let’s go do anything, I’m more calm.
Ramsey Russell: That’s funny you say that. Because like I say, it was 32 months ago I was down here in Argentina and I’m down here, we got Malbec, we got empanadas, we got Asado and we got a lot of ducks and nothing’s really changed, but I’ve changed. And I noticed this the last couple of days, I don’t have an agenda, I’m not mad at nothing, I’m absolutely just taking each moment and savoring it. Like yesterday I went and laid out my dog, just me and my dog by a little pond and I watched the duck quietly and usually if I’d watch them, be still, they kind of buzz around and right into the decoy. Boom. But it’s different, I don’t care, it’s a different mindset. I’m just glad to be here. It’s like, if you ever been so freaking hungry, I mean, like, starving, like if you hadn’t eaten for 3 or 4 days and somebody lay a plate of food, you don’t just gobble it in one bite, you eat it slowly and you savor it and you have to chew it slowly and deliberately, because you’re so hungry and that’s kind of like my mindset now being down here again and seeing everybody, seeing you, seeing Diego.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, it happened to me is I realized that I must enjoy more the little things, like you say, food. When I cooking and I just eat. But now I take the time to try my food and says, okay, I can change this or this is perfect, I’m trying to be better in what I do.
Culinary Inspirations & Cooking Wild Game
But what I do is the same thing as they do, they put the heart and everything to be the best food for everyone, that’s what I love to do.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. I describe a lot of the lodges we stay at a lot of cooks like yourself have a very similar cooking style, different dishes, different recipes, different little favorite ways of doing things. But it’s different, but it’s very familiar. It’s like, if you were to come to my home, Facu could come to Mississippi and I take you out to eat somewhere, it’s not going to be some fancy dancy restaurant, we’re going to go to some little hole in the wall that has meat loaf lunch on Thursday and it’s the best meat loaf you ever had and on Fridays they got fried catfish and maybe somewhere else, we eat some fried chicken, it’s just good food, food that fills you up but it warms you, it fills your soul, that’s what food can do, good food and some of the meals like you serve at night, you eat those meals and I’m thinking, boy, am I going to sleep good tonight, it makes my eyelids heavy, that’s good food.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: What I’m trying to do when I cook now is, be different things. If you get pasta at lunch, I’m going to cook you a cow meat or deer meat or duck meat or anything different. What I’m trying to do is in all the week, never do the same thing.
Ramsey Russell: For those listening, they cook 5 meals a day here. That’s breakfast, lunch and supper and then between each hunt, morning and afternoon, like after each hunt, I should say, morning and afternoon you come in and there’s about 16 square feet of appetizers and empanadas and pâté, all this good stuff. The other day, we came in from hunting a few days ago, there were 10 hunters in camp and they brought two massive bowls of empanadas, I’m going to say there were 3 dozen empanadas and a little bit later, Diego come out to get one, they were gone. He said, would you all like the empanadas and I said, yeah, I guess so. I’m just wondering some of them didn’t lick the bowl with them all, but it was just good food. Where did you learn to cook?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, it’s very funny that story because I was studying business enterprises, when I was younger. I go to parties and spend a lot of money and I said, okay, if I like parties, I spend a lot of money and then I can eat. So, I decided to go into an institute in Mendoza. It’s one of the top school of –
Ramsey Russell: Culinary arts in Mendoza.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah. And I do that because everything you cook, you can take it to your home, so it’s like, a way to save money. And I realized that I was good in what I do and I started to like it and it’s like everything like when I was starting to make my own beer, I start to do it for my friends and my friends tell to other people and one day I meet Diego, I make asada with Diego drink some drinks, it’s not pina colada, it’s with the rum and fruit. I don’t know. And two months later Diego told me, okay, I’m going to do this, are you interested? You are going to be in the kitchen, we have a lot of work and I said, okay, let’s do it.
Ramsey Russell: Your food was great back in 2019, we loved it. You stepped up your game since I’ve been gone. I asked you kiddingly the other day, I said you’ve been practicing during COVID.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, a lot of recipes I do it on my home. But I have a lot of new things that I’m going to put it in practice here and I think it’s going to be better.
Ramsey Russell: How similar are some of your recipes to how your grandmother cooked or how your mother and daddy cooked growing up?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: I do many things that my grandmothers and grandfathers teach me because the food of the grandmothers and grandfathers are very real, very special food. They took you to when you are a child and all that time with not work, not anything of this, of a grown up person. But what I do is the same thing as they do, they put the heart and everything to be the best food for everyone, that’s what I love to do.
Ramsey Russell: I just noticed little things, like pasta. We’ve had pasta, we’ve had ravioli every bit of it is homemade, nothing out of a jar, nothing you break in half and drop in hot water, it’s all made right here in this kitchen. Did your grandparents teach you to do that? Did your grandmama teach you to cook? Is that that kind of a thing?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, my grandmother from the side of my mother she’s Italian. So pasta every Sunday –
Ramsey Russell: Made from scratch.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, homemade everything. Ravioli, spaghetti even lasagna, maybe tomorrow night, I’m going to cook lasagna for you.
Ramsey Russell: Sounds good. You’re influenced by your grandparents and your mama and you went to culinary art school, how do you combine the two into what you do?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, many of the things I took from my grandma, you can study how to cook and everything but I learned a lot of people who doesn’t study cooking, going to my friends, to the countries, eating other people’s foods, what I do is learn from everything. Every place I go, I try this food, make this another food and try to mix with the Argentinian food.
Ramsey Russell: How would you describe Argentina food? Because on the one hand it reminds me of home, it’s just good home cooking. But on the other hand, it’s got this Italian flare to it. People that had never been to Argentina here, folks down here talking Spanish think Mexican, no, that’s not Mexican, it’s more like Spain, European, Italian, a lot of Italian influence down here.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, it’s a big mix of different type of foods.
Ramsey Russell: Would you describe it. If you had to put a label on it, would you say Italian is that kind of your thing?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: What I describe to Argentinian food is more like a country food. It’s very simple with stuff you can get in the forest or in the lake, it’s all meat or cheese, you got the empanadas not too much spicy.
Ramsey Russell: No. You told me the other day, I was watching you cook something and you said that the secret is keeping it simple.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah. Because too many ingredients they cover the food, I’m going to give you an example. I’m cooking some piece of deer, right? If I put salt, pepper, garlic and a lot of stuff, you only eat the ingredients, not the meat. What I like to do it a little bit of this, a little bit of that, but not too much because the food is the deer, right.
Best Recipe for Duck Pâté
I love duck pâté, I love duck livers and these ducks down here are so well fed their livers are high fat content and it’s just very flavorful.
Ramsey Russell: Let’s walk through some recipes. I want to start with duck pâté. I love duck pâté, I love duck livers and these ducks down here are so well fed their livers are high fat content and it’s just very flavorful. Well, haven’t watched you for a few minutes the other day I can now make duck pâté, no doubt. And you told me you got that recipe from your wife, it’s your wife’s recipe. And so is she a cook also?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah. Well, we together work real good because I love to do the desserts and the lunch and everything and she’s better than me doing the sweet things, cakes, pies. And also she works a lot with different type of meat. I’m talking about duck, deer, she have more experience than me and she teach me. We start to practice the first time, I do pâté with chicken liver and she told me if you do it with duck liver, you must do this or that, cover with the bacon to make it wet and not get dried pâté.
Ramsey Russell: Walk me through a pâté. I bring in some duck livers, now what?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: I washed the livers, I choose the livers that doesn’t have a shot, I chop them and these are very simple recipe. Just an onion fry it, chopped onion fry it, some garlic, cognac, a tiny bit of cognac, it’s very simple.
Ramsey Russell: You put a little oil in that pan, you added your onions and garlic started getting them tender, put some cognac in there about shot glass full –
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Then the liver, I cook everything and then I process everything and that’s it.
Ramsey Russell: Add a little butter. But you did something different. You had this little bowl laced with bacon and it did look fried, like fried bacon to me. But you said no, it’s been smoked and salted, it’s done and then you put the liver in it and put some butter on it, so the butter would melt down in that hot cooked liver and then you folded bacon over and let it set, I guess overnight. Did the bacon impart any flavor? Did that do anything? What did that do for it?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, what the bacon do is all the fat to the bacon goes to the Pâté and get the Pâté wet because if you don’t cover, change the color, gets dry and the taste is not good and you can keep that for more time. It’s like a way to keep the Pâté fresh.
Ramsey Russell: That’s a pretty common meal down here, Pâté is pretty common meal. You all would cook at home, obviously or out of whatever you have. Is it just bird livers that you use for that?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, the Pâté you try, I do it with duck liver, the duck that you hunt and I love to use that because I love to cook the breast chicken, maybe I talked with the guys to bring me some duck breast for cooking some fried chicken and fried duck breast.
Ramsey Russell: You all fry it differently than we do down here. Back home, I’ll soak mine in milk, season it, put it in flour, deep fry it, you all pan fry it like bread crumbs and make kind of what I call a milanesa fried. And you’ve done that with – I’ve eaten stag, I’ve eaten duck, I’ve eaten a lot of stuff you all, that’s kind of how you all fry down here, pan fry it just light oil, get it crisp and that’s how you would do that duck breast.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Even I can do it with flavor. But the dried bread give a real good taste to the milanesa. When I cook the milanesa specially or the duck milanesa, the bread soak all the juice inside the meat and change the flavor, that’s the secret. It’s only eggs, milk, you put the marinated meat in there just half hour, one hour took it from there, you put in the bread and then fry it and that’s ready.
Best Ducks to Eat?
I guess they didn’t know Rosy bills is one of the best eating ducks in the world.
Ramsey Russell: People can’t believe the other day, when I pointed out, because you had some red stag in this basket and some duck in that basket, some of the hunters come in. I said, yeah, that’s duck, that’s red stag and they were a little reluctant to go for the duck. I guess they didn’t know Rosy bills is one of the best eating ducks in the world. And ducks a lot of times, the way people cook them wrong have a very strong flavor, those had a very mild flavor. It was very tender, it was very mild and well, they soon disappeared. Change the subject just a minute, I remembered we’re talking about the duck liver and back in 2019, I came down here for an extended period and in between groups one Sunday, we had Sunday off and hunters went home on Saturday, new hunters coming in on Monday and it was Cody’s birthday and there was asado and there were beef short ribs, very traditional here in Argentina, sweet bread, which I love sweet bread. And I’m going to ask you what that is in a minute. But then there were other parts. You all had large intestine, short intestine, kidneys, I mean, it’s like, you almost eat – I’ve been down here to Argentina long enough, I’ve eaten beef tongue delicious, you eat just about every part of the cow except for the moo. And I could not believe how good that large intestine was, it was just like fat, it was just like beef flavored butter, it was unbelievable. I’d never even dreamed of eating something like that over a grill.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: It’s amazing.
Ramsey Russell: When you regularly shoot like red stag or wild hog, wild boar, do you also utilize a lot of the heart and kidney and liver and intestines and things like that? Do you all save that? Would you bring that into your kitchen?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, with the wild animals, yes, you can use the liver, the kidneys, the heart, but the intestines, I don’t use it because it’s too much of you have to clean it with water because the animal eats every day. In the cow is different because before kill a cow, you put the cow in a place, no food for 4 days, so they clean inside.
Ramsey Russell: And besides, he’s been fed, so he’s got a lot of fat just naturally stored around, I’m just curious about that because I think throughout most of America, that’s a little bit of a foreign concept. I love calf liver, I love liver, but I don’t know, if there’s anywhere I can buy sweet bread in America or beef heart, I don’t know where it is. I can’t think of anywhere that I can just go to the grocery and buy it. I like deer heart, I love the liver. But what is sweet bread? Because I absolutely love sweet bread hot off the grill.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: We call that an –
Ramsey Russell: It’s like a hypothalamus gland or something?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, it’s a gland.
Ramsey Russell: Out of the neck, high fat content and it’s just lightly salt and pepper and then times I’ve had it, you squeeze lemon on it.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah. Well, the lemon cut that taste of the fat because it’s very fat.
Ramsey Russell: Very fat, I think that’s why I like it. I’m a fat junkie, I love fat.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Intestine, the taste of the intestine, all the fat around you never must took it because that give the taste to that meat, that’s the secret. What I cook with that is only some salt, some lemon juice, but just a little bit, not too much because simple is good, always simple is good.
Ramsey Russell: Everything we eat here is so simple, I think I can make it, except for the breads and pastries and pastas and things like that, that’s too different. But I mean, just the way you prepare the meat and the meat balls and the different things and it’s just very simple, very nice. We brought in those stag the other day and we served them for dinner that night. I mean, we had some red Stag dinner. What is your favorite cut on red stag?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, I love the empanadas, I love it.
Ramsey Russell: Which part of the animal do you use for that? The ground? The hump, the rump?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: I use every part of the back leg and the back of the animals. The front leg, I use it for other type of food because the red deer don’t have too much meat in this part of the arm. Actually, mostly all the people who hunt it just took the back legs and the back because that is the part of more meat.
Ramsey Russell: And my favorite cut is that tenderloin, I call it on the inside up against the back bone, that is my favorite.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: We call that vacio in Argentina.
Ramsey Russell: I’m getting my nights mixed up, so I’m trying to think last night was part of the night before you served a – it was like a long, skinny slipper of meat, a lot of fat, it had like tomato and cheese and stuff on it, do you remember? What kind of meat was that?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, that is this part, the belly of the cow, but you have the vacio and outside it’s a cut very thick called matambre.
Ramsey Russell: Matambre, it is what it is, isn’t it?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: I prefer matambre like it was a pizza. I put some tomato, homemade tomato sauce with onions and peppers, then I might put some mozzarella cheese, that is something very Italian mozzarella cheese and some slice of tomato and oregano.
Ramsey Russell: So, if I were to have a matambre cook that outside belly with layers, I would season it, I got raw matambre and salt and pepper and layer it like the pizza you’re talking about and then just bake it.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, but it’s very difficult to cook that type of meat because it’s like a – I don’t know, you must have a lot of luck because the meat can be hard or can be soft. What I do is, with a fork, I try to make some holes to the meat to see if I have to put it in milk, if you boil it in milk, that hard meat gets so soft that you can cut with your pencil. But we have good meat, I don’t have to need to boil it one hour in water to make soft, I just put in the oven, took him out when it’s ready, put all the rest ingredients against to the oven when the cheese melted, it’s ready for serve.
Ramsey Russell: Back home when we cook, like today’s pork ribs, I got a smoker. I turn it on, smokes a bunch 200, I like 200° for a long time, gets it tender, I’m done. Or I might grill something, we got to put the charcoals, put the meat on it, don’t let it burn. I’ve always been intrigued with how you all cook these asado out here, a campfire and put the meat over it, sometimes you’ll put some cardboard or metal behind it, was that to trap, the smoke or the heat or both? And then, how do you judge the temperature? How do you do that? I mean, I’m telling you, I think that’s an art.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, it’s very funny because here in Argentina it’s very common where I live, when you are in Saturday, nothing to do at home, I call some friends and go to the river and with some big piece of meat, put it in a grill, like a barbecue, but different. We do goats, sheep, everything, it’s really common. But the secret is, the distance that the meat is from the fire too close, you burn the meat, too far, it doesn’t cook. What I do is put my hand, I think, 50 centimeters if I can stay my hand for 3 seconds without burn, it’s good. 3 Mississippi and then, okay, it’s good the heat, if you want 1 Mississippi, oh, I burn no, too much hot.
Ramsey Russell: And then as it starts to cool off 4 Mississippi you’ll drag more coals under the meat. I think it’s an art, I really do. I’ve never seen that except here in Argentina, a lot of the big restaurants make a big production, when you walk in, they got the world can see their Asado going with big fires and steers and stuff hanging up.
Favorite Ways to Cook Duck
Because it’s something about good food that just brings the best of people out, don’t you think?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, we cook off that way because it’s something very traditional in Argentina, the Asado, came from many years before we have been a country, many years. What I do is cook with two different type of fire, the lower part of the meat, you cook it with the charcoal of the fire and the upper part you cook it with the fire. So you have to keep an eye on the fire and an eye on the charcoal.
Ramsey Russell: And what he’s saying about lower and higher for those of you all listening is that the animal is like either in a rack or skewered and is hanging over the fire at an angle like a 45° angle. So you got the lower part is closer to the fire, the higher part is obviously higher from fire and that’s what you’re saying.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, that’s right.
Ramsey Russell: That’s very interesting. Tell me how you made that cream sauce you had for chicken the other night, it was so simple, I can cook it. And I was thinking of a million different things I can use to cook it on. Remember we had chicken and you put this beautiful cream sauce on top and it was so simple to cook.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, it’s really simple, it’s some soft cheese that we use for breakfast, I melt the cheese, I put some onions but the onions, I cook it with oil. You first cook the onions, then put that cheese, if you want, you can put the mozzarella cheese or Roquefort cheese or cheddar cheese any cheese you have. When that is melt, you put some milk cream on it, the cream make all this very soft and when the chicken breast is ready you just cover all the chicken with that cream.
Ramsey Russell: It was unbelievable.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: It’s really simple. It’s only half salt and pepper, nothing else.
Ramsey Russell: What are you cooking at night?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: I’m going to make fried chicken with an orange sauce.
Ramsey Russell: Orange sauce. That’s different than Mississippi fried chicken.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: What I use is orange sauce, some brown sugar, some ginger, some garlic.
Ramsey Russell: Sounds like an Asian something or another. What is your favorite way to cook duck? Because you’ve cooked it a lot of different ways.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah, a lot of different ways.
Ramsey Russell: I’ve eaten ducks in empanadas, I’ve eaten duck fried, I’ve eaten maybe duck meatballs, I’m looking at over on the counter.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, it’s very rare because I don’t have a favorite form of cooking. But the last time I worked with Diego, Nils told me a recipe of duck, you take the wing, the breast and the leg, you put it in orange juice, some garlic, some ginger, some soy sauce, you marinate that for an hour, you put it in the fire in a grill and that was amazing, the taste of the duck, even I give some of the guys and the guy says, hey, this is not duck, this is chicken. No, this is duck, this is the duck that you hunt.
Ramsey Russell: I’ve got another recipe I’ll share with you that an old professor of mine shared with me recently and something similar. It was olive oil but what he did is he put ground coffee on top of the duck and you think, oh, what was that? It was unbelievable. And you cook it over a hot fire very quickly and it looks like the skin has been charred but it hasn’t, you cook it till the skin is done but that coffee gives it just that black, but the taste is unbelievably good. I got that recipe, I’ll share with you. And your meat loaf you cooked the other night, it was so good. I just wanted to share with you my Memaw’s tomato sauce. I just haven’t eaten enough of your food, I think you would like it, it’s very simple and grandmama southern, it just so simple anybody can do it, I can do it and my wife has got it perfect and she cook it exactly like my grandmother did, but I think you might enjoy that. I like sharing recipes, I mean, I’ve written down a lot of recipes in my notes since I’ve been here and ways to cook things, I filmed you doing it. But I like to share recipes, I think it’s something about food that just connects people. It’s like, for example, here we are at duck camp in Argentina, everybody’s off hunting, doing their thing, we’re shooting ducks, we’re having fun. But two guys in a blind, 3 guys in a blind, one guy in a blind, but then we get around his dinner table and we start breaking bread together and the stories come out and you really get to know the guy sitting next to you, the guy you’ve only talked to on the phone, you get to know him. Because it’s something about good food that just brings the best of people out, don’t you think?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Yeah. What I realize is, that a good meal can change, the humor of the people. You can have a bad day being tired, but I can tell you that a good meal, a real good meal, it change your humor.
Ramsey Russell: Yes, it does. That’s a good note to end on Facu. Thank you very much for sitting down with me. And thank you very much for your amazing culinary hospitality, it’s always good. I mean, you’re in here working, you ought to hear everybody out there by the campfire talking about you and it’s all good. Everything you’ve served from the appetizer to the eggs in the morning to the lunches and on one hand, I kind of wish you’d have a menu and I say, all right, I’d be out here in the duck hole thinking all right, fixing to go eat such and such. But I like coming in and being surprised because it’s all good. So keep up the good work man, thank you very much.
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Thanks to you, it’s a pleasure.
Ramsey Russell: Well, Facundo, thank you. But you never really answered what compels a 30 year old man to get on a 3ft long skateboard and fly 80 miles an hour down the side of a mountain, I’m just curious why?
Facundo Jurado Esquivel: Well, it’s very simple. My grandfather when he dies, he says, I work all my life, I save a lot of money, I have a lot of money but I’m old, I’m boring, I don’t want to travel, I don’t want to see anyone, you don’t do the same things as I do. And that’s what I live my life every day because when I get older I want to be cool, have a lot of stories, not be that old person boring who says, oh, I don’t do that when I couldn’t or I didn’t do another things because time passes by very fast.
Ramsey Russell: That’s a damn good answer. And folks, thank you all for listening, this episode of Ducks Season Somewhere from Argentina at Las Flores Lodge, see you next time.