According to legend, a great chef in Punta del Este, Uruguay, Antonio Carbonada, had an Argentine lady as a regular customer. One day she asked for her favorite sandwich made with goat (chivito in Spanish). There was no goat to be had, so the chef threw together what was on hand—steak, ham, cheese, lettuce, and mayonnaise—and the chivito was born. It is now found everywhere in Uruguay.

As with most traditional comfort food, everybody makes their chivito just a little differently. Here’s mine.–Francis Mallmann


  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 4
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  • 1 boneless rib steak, 1 pound, sliced horizontally into 4 thin steaks (you can ask the butcher to do this)
  • Coarse salt
  • 4 sandwich rolls
  • 1/2 cup aioli
  • Four 1/8-inch-thick slices pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices boiled ham (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 ounces queso blanco or Monterey Jack, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 Boston lettuce leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 roasted peppers, from a jar or roasted over an open flame; charred skin removed


  • 1. Pound the steaks lightly with a meat mallet until they are evenly about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  • 2. Split the rolls and spread aioli on both halves; set aside.
  • 3. Heat a chapa or a two-burner cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat. As it is heating, crisp the pancetta on it, turning once; set aside. When the chapa is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on the surface, add the steaks and cook, without moving, for 2 minutes. Turn and cook for another minute, or until done to taste.
  • 4. Meanwhile heat the olive oil until it shimmers, then fry the eggs until the whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny.
  • 5. Place a steak on the bottom half of each of the rolls and top with a slice each of ham, cheese, and crisp pancetta and a fried egg. Cover the other halves with the lettuce, tomatoes, and roasted pepper, and close the sandwiches. Slice the chivito in half and serve.


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  1. Very interesting, but far from the real “chivito” that started at the Old Mejillon, a corner place that was for many years “the” place to go before and after parties, dancing, or whatever people were doing those great and far gone days of Punta del Este. I don’t think ANY Argentinian lady (or not) vacationing in Punta would have asked for goat meat in a sandwich. That’s as farfetched as it can be. Anyhow, there’s always a lot of faux legend in these gastronomical “inventions,” like in the revuelto Gramajo. But one thing for sure is that the original chivito, the one I ate and ate and never tired of eating didn’t have pancetta, or bacon if you want to be less sophisticated, nor eggs, whether soft cooked or hard boil. Certainly, peppers, whatever the color, never were served on a chivito of olden days, not even during carnival to give it more color! The new Canadian monster, a sort of grotesque, pantagruelian and inflated version of the humble and tasty original was the product of an overly hungry pseudo creative mind, the type that has to “improve” things by adding ingredients and losing in that race what was good in the simple, elegant and smaller “primo” chivito.

      1. Yeah! That’s a good question. Maybe some Canada goose went overboard going south in winter and landed in Punta del Este?

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