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Guide to Making the Perfect Argentine Asado

argentine asado

Living in Argentina is a dream come true.  The prices are super cheap, the women are incredibly beautiful and the party scene is insane.  Add to that – probably the best beef culture in the world.  Argentine Asado is quite possibly the most delicious style of BBQ anywhere on earth. There are a few factors that contribute to this – we will cover some of them below!

1) Choose the correct meat.  
Chorizos: small pork sausages.
Morcilla: blood sausages.
Tira de asado: the perennial favorite, short ribs.
Vacio: flank steak.
Bife ancho: rib-eye steak.
Lomo: tenderloin.
Mollejas: sweetbreads, delicious when cooked until crispy on a hot fire with plenty of lemon.

Buy enough for 500g per person.  It seems like a lot, but hell, this is Argentinian Asado we are talking about.

2) Make a real wood fire – The real trick to the amazing bbq flavor comes from natural hardwood coals.  Start your fire using oak or almond wood if available, and keep to the side of your grill until there’s a mountain of red glowing embers.

3) Make sure your grill is cleaned – Cleaning your grill is important so it does not taint the flavor with old carbon sediment.  Argentinian Asado’s flavor comes from light clean smoke – not heavy smoke and not heavy carbon char flavor.

4) Rake your embers – When the flames have subsided and smoke of your initial fire has relented, you will have a pile of red hot and smoldering lumps of wood embers to the left of your grill. You will take these and rake them across your grill in an even and flat manner.

5) Lower the grill – You want to keep the coals at least 15cm above the hot bed of coals.  If you are using a normal American charcoal grill, try and make the embers as low as possible.  YOU DO NOT WANT TO COOK YOUR MEAT TOO FAST!

6) Keep the hottest coals to the side – You don’t want to cook the meat too fast. You want to avoid flare ups which will char the meat too much before it cooks all the way through.  Vacio (flank) and entraña (skirt) are two other flavorsome cuts which respond beautifully to asado cooking.

7) Cook your meats medium – Argentinians like their meat more well done than Americans. Except for maybe Ojo de Bife which can be pink in the center.  The more fatty meats like the ribs need to be cooked longer to tenderize them and render the intravenous tissue. 


8) Chimichurri! Make this tasty sauce with:
2 cups packed fresh Italian parsley leaves.
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed.
1/4 cup packed fresh oregano leaves (or 4 teaspoons dried oregano)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar.
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
Freshly ground black pepper.
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

You’re likely to find salt on the dinner table, as well as some tangy salsa criolla. A fresh condiment made from red peppers, tomato, onion, parsley, oil and vinegar.

9) Drinks – Bring some Malbec Wine, Fernet or Quilmes beer to enjoy.

10) Cut the meat – Cut the meat up before you serve it.  Make a platter with some bread and people can eat family style.

There you go – now you know how to BBQ like a bad ass Argentinian pit master.  If you can get an Argentine grill – sometimes referred to as a Santa Maria style grill here in the US – you will get even better results with your finished product.  This style grill can raise and lower the height to control how hot it is at the bottom of the meat.

Choose your favorite backyard, saucy barbecue shirt here