Uruguay - Chivito Sandwich
The USA has the hamburger. Uruguay has the chivito. Chock-full of protein and vegetables, the sandwich does not have a hard-and-fast recipe, though the first recorded chivito was “a toasted bread sandwich with butter, ham, and a thin medium-rare beef steak”. The recipe I followed comprised of exactly that, but also added a fried egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mozzarella, mayo and ketchup, making it slightly tricky to fit my mouth around. Whilst definitely not a meal to have every night, purely due to the sheer amount of calories that must be in each serving, I will definitely be making this again, being only bested in my rankings for favourite sandwich by banh mi.
Romania - Sarmale
To be honest, I really wasn't looking forward to Sarmale, a traditional Romanian dish of cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and pork. I was, therefore, delighted to find that this was an unexpectedly delicious meal. The cabbage leaves themselves are cooked in total for about 3.5 hours, so are a gorgeously soft texture, without its characteristic crunch. The leaves are first blanched, then filled with minced pork, onion, raw rice, dill and tomato sauce. The rolls are boiled for an hour in a broth of stock, tomato coulis, bacon and any spare strips of cabbage, before cooking in the oven for another 2-2.5 hours. I was very taken with this recipe because it used ingredients well known to me, but cooked them in such different ways to create textures and flavour combinations I would never associate with them normally.
Netherlands - Hutspot
Recipe from "Elektro Kookboek", though remarkably similar to the recipe found at https://www.ah.nl/allerhande/recept/R-R1192924/hutspot
Having Dutch family myself, I have grown up regularly eating Hutspot (mashed potato with carrots and onion), a variation of Stamppot (the slightly broader definition of potatoes mashed with one or more other vegetables). The hutspot is traditionally served with rookworst, a smoked, u-shaped sausage. I cooked this whilst visiting relatives in Holland, and was able to follow a recipe from my Oma's cookbook which we think would have been published somewhere around 1957. This recipe remarkably remains pretty much identical to the recipe found at Albert Heijn's (a popular Dutch supermarket) website. It's simple comfort food, but a dish with well balanced flavours - the sweetness of the carrot well offsetting the very salty sausage.
Greece - Moussaka
Recipe from https://www.mygreekdish.com/recipe/mousakas/
The bane of many schoolchildren's lunchtimes across the UK, moussaka is, when made well, a warm, comforting and downright tasty meal. I think many of us just have offputting memories of the horror that is undercooked aubergine. For those that don't know, moussaka is similar to lasagna but made with aubergine, and occasionally potato,instead of pasta sheets. The meat sauce should be rich and flavoured with tomato, garlic, wine and cinnamon, with a bechamel bursting with the umami flavour of parmesan (or other hard cheese) and nutmeg. Moussaka looks inviting and it definitely lives up to that promise.
Kyrgyzstan - Beshbarmak
Recipe from https://ingmar.app/blog/recipe-the-national-dish-of-kyrgyzstan-besh-barmak/
After cooking a few dishes which were already in my repertoire, it was a nice change of pace to move onto Kyrgyzstan's Besh Barmak. The dish itself is fairly simple to make, but as is often the case with national dishes in particular, the meal requires patience. The meat (lamb or mutton - I used lamb here) is boiled for approximately 90 minutes, skimming any foam off regularly, then cut up into small strips. The noodles (flour, egg, salt and water) and rings of onion are cooked off in some of the remaining broth, and the rest of it is cooked down further, with bay leaf to add an extra depth of flavour. The noodles are topped with the ringed onions, lamb and a chyk sauce (broth, chopped onion and black pepper), and served with the broth topped with dill. I think if I were to make this recipe again, I would make an effort to make the noodles a bit less dense (my own fault, not the recipe's), but other than that, I was very happy with the meal.