One of the many things this country is famous for, is our style of barbequing. We have specific cuts of beef and certain ways of cooking the meat that is all our own. Over the past few months I’ve been collecting photos of different asados I’ve had. Finally, here at Las Ondinas, we prepared our own asado.
The first thing to know about the Argentine asado is that there has to be an asador, the person in charge of building the fire and cooking the meat. This person must have a lot of patience because he will have to endure long hours of standing in front of the fire. The next thing to know is that an asado is that it is a lengthy affair. It is usually prepared on weekends, Christmas, birthdays or other occasions when many people gather and have enough time to hang out and enjoy the feast. We prepared an asado at Las Ondinas because two of our WWOOF volunteers are leaving tomorrow and we wanted to have a special good bye dinner for them.
Here are the components and processes of the Argentine Asado
Parrilla: the argentine grill. The parrilla is like a table made of bricks, it is either open to the air or covered with a little chimney. The embers are dispersed over the bricks and the meat is cooked on the grill on top.
The meat: beef of many cuts (like ribs and steaks) seasoned with salt just before it’s cooked. Entrails of the cow (intestines, thyroid gland, kidneys etc…). Sausages (pork sausage called chorizo and blood sausage called morcilla). Chicken if you like, but it is usually a red meat party.
Salads: the most common is the ensalada mixta, made with lettuce, onion and tomato. Some folks like potato salad too or wrap potatoes in aluminum foil and throw them in the embers.
Bread. An Argentine essential. To sop up all the juices!
Chimichuri: a sauce to accompany the meat. Chimi, as it is affectionately called, is made by mixing either dry or fresh oregano, parsley, garlic, red pepper, salt and pepper. Hot water is added to moisten any dry aromatics and then olive oil and a little bit of vinegar. All the proportions are up to you, of course.
Drinks: as you like them. Red wine, pop for the kids, mate for the asador etc…
Dessert: the traditional dessert that I almost always have when I eat asado is flan. But you have dessert only if you haven’t stuffed yourself too much with meat!
Start cooking: The first things to go on the grill are the chorizos, morcillas and provoleta. These are meant to be starters, something for people to satisfy their hunger while they wait for the real meat to cook.
Then the achurras, entrails, are cooked. The intestines are braided and cooked until golden and crispy. The sweet bread, or molleja (thyroid gland) is also cooked until it’s crispy. There are also sometimes kidneys and tripa gorda, large intestine.
Then come the cuts of beef. Here are the basic cuts: entraña, vacio, tira de asado (costillitas), bife de chorizo, bife de lomo, falda parrillera and matambre. They are cooked with the embers of the fire, never directly over the fire and seasoned simply with coarse salt. This way the meat cooks nice and slow, gets colored on the outside and stays juicy inside. The asador usually asks how people like their meat, and just in case he prepares a little of everything; some pieces very well done and others still mooing (as my father would say).
Well, I think those are the basics of an Asado Argentino! Every asado is a little bit different, depending on what meat is on hand, who is coming to the feast and the asador. Oh, there is one last thing. No matter how bad the meat is, no matter how tough or raw or tasteless, you always thank the asador. When everyone is at the table you clap when someone shouts out, “un aplauso para el asador!” a round of applause for the asador!