Warning – Vegetarians avert your eyes….Now then, for those of you who don’t know the Argentines love their meat. So much so that we recently picked up an Argentine hitchhiker who knew little English but every time we drove past a cow he proclaimed excitedly “Asado!” Broadly speaking an Asado is a term used for having a barbecue – but that description in our experience doesn’t even touch the surface of what the term means to the Argentines. It’s their national dish. At the very least it’s a few hours social event of the practice of painstaking slowly cooking a range of meats (particularly beef and lamb) or more often than not it’s the backbone of a full days activity.
I’m probably going to start a Southern Hemisphere conflict here but before I came away I assumed the land of Australia was the King of the barbecue. I was wrong. Asado has the crown. It’s the shear quantities involved and the attention to detail that has amazed me. Everyone is at, and everywhere! I’ve seen Asado’s spring up on motorway verges, hordes of people taking over campsites, riversides, petrol station forecourts and even in the middle of city centre roundabouts! But is there an accepted technique for this national craze? No, definitely not. But the principal appears to be take all day if possible to slowly cook your vast amounts of high quality meat, whilst drinking beer or fernet and coke (this concoction deserves no further mention here!) with a finale of eating somewhere between 10 o’clock and midnight!
So what’s involved? I enlisted argentine help in the form of our friend Julio Delgado to find out:
Stage One: Use some wood to create a fire next to the parrilla or grill.
STAGE 2: Prepare the meat. Believe it or not but a guide of 1/2 kg per person should be used. However, most butchers I go to seem to recommend 1kg per person!
STAGE 3: Arrange meat and cursory ‘vegetables’ on the parrilla. Take care to put more expensive cuts of meat away from the fire.
STAGE 4: Using the time honoured prodding stick, move hot white embers from the fire to under the parrilla. Spread evenly to form an even heat.
STAGE 5: It’s hot long work so have a booze!
STAGE 6: Continue to monitor the heat and move additional embers in when necessary. Note: meat may only be turned once and don’t fiddle with it – it’s an Asado not a game of table football.
STAGE 7: Cook slow… slow… slow. Use embers to roast onions and alike.
STAGE 8: Mas Cerveza!
STAGE 9: Wait for the moon to come up!
STAGE 10: It should look this good when ready!
STAGE 11: Get stuck in!!
STAGE 12: Be happy and full with your 1kg of carne!!!
FINAL STAGE: Sit around the white hot fire and repeat STAGE 5 & 8 until the sun comes up.
*Note: this is only a guide and I have no doubts that every argentine has specific ways of handing his Asado!