Adventurous Argentine BBQ – the “asado”

If you’re looking to try outdoor cooking with a bit of a twist this Summer, barbecue fanatics across the world should take note – try it the Argentine way…
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Argentina is a country famed for its cuisine, with no dish more renowned than the Argentine barbecue, or asado. Argentinians take great care and pride when it come to beef, especially in how it is cooked. The asado is a tradition passed down through generations, often being the main focus of social events and family gatherings. Whoever is preparing the beef is awarded the title of grand asador; a responsibility not to be taken lightly!

What a great asado really comes down to is precision flame cooking. Not the kind you may have come across before, either. The key is “low and slow” – the cooking is never rushed. This allows the full flavours of the beef to develop, and also gives plenty of time to relax with a glass of Argentine Malbec!

The coals are lit from one side only, so the heat takes time to spread evenly throughout. This results in a grill with a hot side and a cooler side – allowing the grand asador more control over cooking.
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Use coal, for a slow, controlled heat – but the addition of wood chips is commonplace, in order to create a smokey flavour in the beef as it cooks.

Rather than sharing cooking time equally between both sides of the beef, this style of barbecue cooks the meat on one side for 70% of the time, then flips to the other for the remaining 30% of cooking time. Why? Because whilst the lower side is cooking, the upper side is warming through, so requires less cooking time when it is flipped.

As well as the relaxed, yet careful techniques of grilling the beef, we love that in Argentina, people really value the cow as a whole animal, and nothing is wasted. This attitude has produced the following traditional cuts of beef that aren’t often seen in the UK:

Picaña (or Tapa de cuadril)

Taken from top part of the rump, this has been a popular cut on our shop for a while now, partially due to its versatility. It can be a fantastic alternative Sunday roast, and is perfectly suited to ultra-slow cooking on a barbecue. It’s also very good thinly sliced and flash fried – making it a great all rounder.

Tira de ancho

This is a spiral cut rib-eye, best from the sirloin end. Slow cooking and serving medium really gets the best out of this slightly higher fat content of the rib-eye. Allow plenty of time and patience, and you’ll be rewarded with juicy, succulent meat with a rich, creamy flavour.

Asado de chorizo

Cut from the sirloin and butterflied, this is best served medium rare to appreciate the depth of flavour that comes from the fat throughout this cut. For an authentic Argentine speciality, the meat can be brushed with chimichurri sauce; a marinade of parsley, garlic, vegetable oil, white wine vinegar and mild chilli.

Lomito

Unlike the picana, the lomito comes from the very centre of the rump. However, the sinew which can sometimes result in a tough cut is removed, leaving just tender meat and full strong flavour. A low fat alternative, so best served as rare as possible.

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Serve any of these cuts with plenty of crusty bread, more chimichurri sauce, chillies, fresh salads and vegetables, and also other meaty sides such as chorizo and morcilla (blood sausage).


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