There is nothing quite like Argentine asado. This type of cuisine is a cultural staple of this South American country, and with good reason – it’s fantastic. Although some people may compare it to barbeque, any Argentinian will surely scowl and scoff at anyone uneducated and inexperienced enough to attempt to liken the two. An asado is not a barbeque, but rather something quite different.
In some ways, an asado is about as simple as cooking gets. A wood and charcoal fire is built, and meat is roasted over it on a cast iron grill. Many families in Argentina will have an asado once a week on a weekend, and it is just as much about the ritual family gathering as it is about the food.
Cooking this way can take hours, so it allows families to spend time with each other and enjoy each other’s company during the preparation. When the meal is ready, they can enjoy it together and appreciate the time and effort it took.
The History of Asado
Historically, the idea of asado began hundreds of years ago. For centuries, wild cattle roamed the lowlands of central Argentina. As a result, the people of that region developed a strong taste for beef that they have carried with them and have passed down ever since.
Gauchos, the traveling horsemen of the area in the 1800s that are similar to North America’s cowboys, often slow roasted their beef over a fire on a metal skewer structure called an asador. Hence, this type of cuisine got its name. When people enjoy an asado together, they celebrate family and friendship, but also Argentinian history and culture as well.
How to Cook an Asado
If you’d like to recreate an asado on your own, you can. Although a traditional asado requires a parilla, a cast iron grill that can be adjusted to different heights, you can at least get close to the experience without one.
First, you must build a fire from wood arranged over a pile of coal. The person who lights the fire – in this case, you – is known as the asador. If you have trouble getting the fire lit, you can use some pine cones to help.
In time, the wood will burn away, and you will have a bed of hot coals. Spread these coals out in a flat field. If you have a cast iron or another metal griddle, set it up so it is about six inches above the heat.
Once you have everything set up, you can begin adding the meat. Add the largest cuts first because they will take the most time to cook. Don’t marinate; instead, just add some salt and rub it over the meat. To know that it is working, you should hear a quiet and ongoing sizzling sound.
It can take hours for meat to cook properly in this way, so sit back and enjoy your company while you wait. Don’t worry about overcooking; well-done is the Argentine way. Once everything is ready, add some homemade or store-bought chimichurri sauce, dig in and experience taste sensations offered by slow-cooked asado meat. You’ll love it.
Of course, asados began with beef, so various cuts of beef will be the primary meat at any asado. Also, Argentinians use every part of the cow, so don’t shy away from using things like intestines, kidneys, sweetbreads and more.
Don’t let that stop you, though; you can also roast pork, chicken, and other meats in this way. Sausages of all kinds are a great addition, too. Sides often include a simple salad, grilled vegetables, and bread.
Get Cooking Asado
Now that you know all about Argentinian asado, it’s time to give it a try. Get out there this weekend and cook some meat, and invite some family and friends over to enjoy it, too. Soon you will see why the people of Argentina love this cuisine and this tradition so much, and your first asado certainly won’t be your last.
To learn more about Argentinian cuisine, check out our article 17 Argentine Food Dishes You Should Be Eating. Or for you dessert lovers out there, find out about 16 Argentinian Desserts Nobody Can Turn Down.
Hungry yet? If so, you can shop for Argentinian foods and drinks at our online store.
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