The Art of Argentine Asado
As the weather warms up in Mendoza the air starts to fill with a smoke and in Argentina, where there´s smoke, there´s Asado. Asado is the famed Argentine Barbeque, the country’s preferred food group, pastime and art form all rolled into one. A variety of meat cuts are seasoned, and cooked over fiery red coals and an open-air grill. Here’s what you need to know to make an Argentine asado at home:
A savvy asador (grill master) always begins by setting up the grill station, with the fire “pit” on one side and the grill grate on the other. Position the grill 4-6 inches above a fire-proof surface and keep a grill shovel and coal tongs nearby, you’ll need them to help position the hot coals in just the right spot.
In the fire “pit” build a small bonfire of thick trunks of hard wood and light the fire several hours in advance of dinner time. Hard wood logs will ensure that beautiful red coals form, and that you don´t wind up with a pile of ash and a grumbling stomach. Professional asadors estimate two kilograms of wood for every kilo of meat, though it’s always better to have too many coals then to force your guests to eat their steaks rare.
After coals form, evenly distribute them coals under the grill grate, while always keeping a small fire stoked with fresh wood. You´ll know the coals are hot enough when you can’t comfortably hold your hand over the grill for more than 5 seconds. If the coals are cooling, swap them out for fresh ones.
Argentine meat cuts are very different from the North American variety. Not only are the butchering techniques entirely different, the flavor and tenderness are world-renowned. Some of the most common meats used for asado include matambre (thin cut near the ribs), costillas (ribs), lomo (tenderloin), chorizo (sausage), and morcillas (blood sausage). Season the all meat cuts generously with coarse salt and place bone-side-down on the grill. Argentines generally estimate ½ kilo (1.1 pounds) of meat per person, though if you’re new to the carnivorous scene of South America you may want to round down.
Though veggies aren’t traditionally the focal point of a hearty Argentine asado, that doesn’t mean they can’t make an appearance at the dinner table. Toss up a fresh green salad, roast them on the grill, or throw a few veggies in the fire. As the wood burns down to charcoal, toss in a whole onion, bell pepper, or eggplant. The heat of the flames will char the outside, while the insides roast and smoke. Then discard the burnt skins and enjoy a warm vegetable salad seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
If you’re interested in rounding out your meal, check out these two traditional Argentine sides to accompany the meat main dish.
Our team of highly passionate, skilled trip planners wants to get to know you so we can construct the perfect getaway. We pull from our large network of local winemakers, adventurers, chefs, artists and more to introduce you to a side of Mendoza, Argentina that you won’t see with any other tour agency.
Ready to get started? Tell us who you are and what you love – and we’ll use that to build your perfect trip! Click here to get started!