“Asado” is a term used in Argentina and other South American countries that means “barbecue,” but it doesn’t quite describe the way you do your standard outdoor grilling.
This is meat cooked over coals or wood embers, a system developed by Argentinian gauchos who needed to grill their food out on the grasslands.
It’s not a cooking method for everyone, but if you think you’re ready to tackle it, here are a few Argentine style grilling tips from Manuel Debandi, chef at the Terrazas de Los Andes winery:
Go slow, and keep your heat low. Use indirect heat. That means letting the flames die down and cooking over coals instead.
Debandi recommends using wood instead of charcoal, and says hardwood works the best.
Season the meat only with salt and pepper before grilling, and toss fresh sprigs of herbs – rosemary especially – into the coals to enhance flavor.
Add some savory sauces – chimichurri is a natural – after the meat has rested and you’re ready to serve.
We also tracked down some tips from Argentine chef Zack Paul, courtesy of the food website The Kitchn, which caught up with the chef as he prepared a meal.
Paul cooks without sauces or rubs. Instead, he just seasons his food with a “salmuera” (salt water) baste.
“This salt water is a genius concept,” The Kitchn writes. “It lets the true flavors of the meats and vegetables come forward, all the while developing a crusty exterior and yielding a juicy, beautiful and flavorful interior.”
Like Debandi, Paul cooks for a long time over a low heat. Although the flames and coals are starting to fade, the leftover heat is just right for keeping meat tender and juicy, and for capturing the flavor of grilled vegetables.
With those tips in mind, we’ve tracked down a couple of Argentinian-style steak recipes, which you can make with the help of our own authentic chimichurri.
Chorizo and ribs with chimichurri
1 cup of chimichurri
The most complicated thing about this recipe is making the chimichurri, but fortunately, we have you covered on that front.
Start by cooking the chorizo on low heat over some burned-down coals for about an hour. Then add the ribs, cover the meat with newspaper, and turn every 15 minutes until they’re cooked to your liking.
Let the meat rest, then add the chimichurri.
Argentinian asado steak
10-12 oz. free-range grass-fed beef per person
Sea salt, preferably coarse
Start by finding the right cut of meat. If you can track down Argentine beef, that’s wonderful, but American grass-fed beef will work as well, and is available from stores like Whole Foods and most butchers. Look for New York strip or rib-eye, unless you can find a thin Argentine hanger steak.
Cook with hardwood charcoal, letting it ash over before you start cooking, over a medium-fire heat.
Cook gently. Don’t add salt at first, especially if you’re using a leaner cut of beef. Instead, put the steak on the grill, let one side brown for three minutes, then turn it and salt the browned side. After three minutes, turn the steak and salt the newly browned side.
Rotate the steak every few minutes for about a total 12 minutes of cooking time. Then let the steak rest for 15 minutes before carving. Carve too early, and all the juices will run out. Add chimichurri sauce before serving.
If this style of cooking seems right for you, contact Gaucho Grills. Our grill designs are inspired by the traditional Argentine “parrilla,” meaning outdoor chefs can raise and lower the grilling service over burning wood or coals while cooking on a wider than normal area. No matter what you’re cooking, Gaucho Grills will take your asado to the next level.