July 9th is Argentina's Independence Day, celebrated there in the dead of winter, when hearty, stick-to-your-ribs stews are a welcome dinner on a cold night. Carbonada and fireworks are the order of the day, and this is a stew-lover's dream: savory, brothy, sweet and meaty.
Carbonada combines not just meat and potatoes, but pieces of corn--still on the cob--carrots, red and green pepper, bacon..and fruit! Chopped peaches, pears and green grapes--definitely adds a twist to the 'yanqui' version of stew. Traditionally, the whole dish is combined inside of a zapallo--a fall pumpkin--the funny-looking, green, lumpy kind with yellow flesh inside--and baked or placed in smoldering barbecue coals, until the contents have all cooked together. The name comes from the word for charcoal--carbon--when the coals are white hot and smoldering, this stew is prepared.