This month we get to travel somewhere new, Cochabamba, Bolivia. And we are making one of Bolivia’s most beloved dishes, “Pique Macho.”
Bolivians consider Pique Macho the world’s greatest expression of meat and potatoes!
The dish is a sultry combination of perfectly seasoned beef cubes and sliced hotdogs. It is served over a bed of crispy potato fries and finished with julienned vegetables and multiple garnishes. Hot sauce is an integral part of this dish. Bolivians use a fiery hot sauce that they make from their local locoto peppers, but you can use your own favorite hot sauce.
But wait, how did this dish become so popular? Urban legend has it that late one evening, a group of hungry (and drunken!) workers arrived at a local restaurant just as it was closing. Upon being told there was nothing left to eat, the ravenous men insisted that they would eat anything. So the owners (Honorato Quinones and his wife, Evangelina Gomez Quinones) set about chopping whatever ingredients remained from the evening, then they piled everything high on a bed of fried potatoes. They included copious amounts of hot sauce in the layers, supposedly to help the patrons with their drunkenness. There was enough food to feed an army, and as the owners dropped the platter off at the table Evangelina said, “Piquen si son machos” which means “eat it if you think you’re man enough!” Thus, the Pique Macho was created by the owners of Restaurante Miraflores in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Go there if you are ever in the area, and bring your appetite!
I’ll admit I did a little happy dance when I saw the list of ingredients, but here are some options for “classing” things up a bit, just in case hotdogs and French fries aren’t your thing. You could always substitute sausage links for the hotdogs, maybe chorizo? As for the potatoes, I might suggest Tater Tots, since they are easy to bake, fun to eat, and stay crispy longer. Or perhaps you’d prefer new potatoes, quartered, and roasted in the oven with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Do make sure you include ketchup and mayonnaise on the side, as they really help to bring the whole mess together.
At first I thought this recipe might be too weird to include here. But, in fact, this dish really is not so different from our nachos. Think about layers of chips, covered with melted cheese and all manner of toppings, including meats and vegetables, served on large platters to hungry diners (often drunk!) and well, you can see the similarities, can’t you?
I think this recipe lends itself well to serving at a potluck. You can divide and conquer the list of ingredients and work by assigning different parts of the recipe to others. Then you can set out all the separate bowls of ingredients and serve buffet style. Everyone can then build their own Pique Macho!
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Pique Macho (Tested)
Serves 4 to 6
This dish is as fun as it is deliciously interesting. The parts of the dish can be separately prepared and presented buffet style in separate platters, bowls, and serving containers, and your guests can build their own platefuls of their favorite combinations and garnishes. Generally, a bottom layer of potatoes is first topped with a scoop of the meat topping, ideally with a spoonful of the meat juices included. A layer of salad is then added, and on top of the salad, the garnishes are applied, including ketchup and mayonnaise, which really help to bring the whole mess together, and the all-important hot sauce.
For the meat ingredient, any tender lean beef will do. I used sirloin steak tips from Trader Joe’s and they were perfect. Although the hotdogs I used were great in this dish, you could class things up a bit by substituting sausage links. Use beer as the liquid in the meat topping if you would enjoy drinking the rest of it while you finish preparing your ingredients, or you can just add water if you’d rather not have leftover beer (never a problem in my house). For the French fries, you can substitute Tater Tots, which stay crispy longer than French fries, or new potatoes, quartered and roasted in the oven with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. My choice of beverage here would be an icy cold beer, served in chilled glasses.
4 uncured beef hotdogs, sliced on a sharp diagonal (about 8 oz.)
1 lb. beef, such as sirloin steak, cut into bite-size cubes
1 clove garlic, smashed
Pinch of ground cumin
½ cup beer or water
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the hotdog slices and brown on one side. You should not need to add oil as the hotdogs will release some fat. Turn and brown the other side, remove from the pan, and set aside.
There should be a film of oil left in the pan, but if not add a drizzle of oil to the pan and heat. Add the beef cubes and the garlic, browning the meat on one side. Turn and brown the other side. Season aggressively with salt and pepper, and add the ground cumin. This browning process should take anywhere from 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the level of heat.
Stir the hotdogs back into the pan. Add the beer. Reduce the liquid over the heat for just a minute; you will want some juices left in the pan to keep everything moist. Pour the meat and the juices into a serving bowl.
1 large tomato, sliced in thin wedges, or 1 cup cherry tomato halves
1 small red onion, sliced very thin (3.5 oz. or 1 cup)
½ of a large red or green pepper, sliced very thin (about 3 oz.)
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Mix the tomato, onion, and peppers with the vinegar and oil; add salt to taste. Place in a separate serving bowl.
1 (24-oz.) bag of frozen French fries
Bake according to the directions on the bag. Slide onto a platter to serve.
Hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced very thinly in rounds (optional)
Place each garnish in separate container for serving
Serve ingredients separately and ask guests to serve themselves.
Recipe adapted from: https://boliviancookbook.wordpress.com/main-dishes/pique-a-lo-macho-pique-macho/
Photo credit: Linda McElroy