Argentine asados - a meat-lover's paradise
Meat lovers will be in bovine heaven in Argentina with the national dish and top social event being an asado – a term loosely used for a barbeque. But an asado is much more than a meal; it is a culinary event and an integral part of social life in Argentina that any visitor to South America should experience (though vegetarians will be forgiven for passing one by)!
It will undoubtedly be the yummiest barbeque you’ve ever tasted and one of the best places to experience one is with the gauchos on a traditional estancia, such as Estancia Los Potreros
Beef is cooked on a specially designed grill called a ‘parrilla’ usually constructed out of bricks over an open fire with the meat kept at a distance from the flames so that it doesn’t get charred.
Try not to overdo it on the first course as it will be followed by loads more…Sausages (chorizos being an excellent beef sausage or morcilla – a blood sausage with a more acquired taste) are generally first off the grill, ribs are next and then come the more serious cuts of meat.
Beef – the father of all meats – takes on an almost religious importance. It is not marinated just salted with sal parrillera (a special salt for asados, very much like sea salt) and cooked for around two hours.
It’s good to know your way around the different cuts of meat – which differ from those in Europe. Cuts are sliced through bone and muscle rather than across them with Argentines liking their meat well cooked. If you prefer your meat medium, ask for it ‘en el punto’.
The meat rarely needs condiments but one typical sauce chimichurri (containing parsley, garlic, oregano, red pepper and olive oil) will always be available. A home-made version is best with everybody having their own closely guarded secret formula.