My advice is to prepare some snacks first (cheese, salami and bread, for example) accompanied of course by a full-bodied glass of Argentinean red – preferably a Malbec. The point of an asado (Argentinean barbecue) is to slowly cook the meat. If you’re in a rush, forget it – you’re going to need all afternoon to prepare this hunk of meat.
Lighting the fire
The building of the fire is a fine art – never use a gas-fuelled barbecue as it spoils the flavour of the meat and you don’t get the authentic chargrilled taste. To make the fire, you need to roll some newspaper into small balls. Position some chunks of firewood around the newspaper creating a small mountain shape – note the firewood must be completely dry. When the fire has died down, you can add the charcoal. Once the flames have disappeared completely and all you are left with are glowing orange coals, you can then add the meat. From time to time top up the fire with a few more coals. You want the meat to cook on a very low heat (no flames) and for a very long time. A good tip for a smoky flavour throughout is to place a piece of fire wood to the side so it burns very gently releasing smoke over and around the meat.
Preparing the meat
Take a cut of beef weighing 2.5 to 3 kilos and first rub sea salt all over it. Should you choose, you can marinade the beef with a special Argentinean sauce (see below). If so, the meat should marinate for 6-12 hours. Place the beef over the barbecue and let it cook for at least 2 hours, ideally 3, turning occasionally.
A simple salad works well – just lettuce, sliced tomatoes and onions thinly sliced. In Argentina we also make potato salad.
No asado is complete in Argentina without chimichurri sauce. Dip a bite-size piece of cooked beef into this sauce for a zingy flavour.
Ingredients for the chimichurri sauce
- 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup of red wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 small red onion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- Pinch of salt and black pepper
- Blend ingredients in a food processor.
- Separate the sauce into equal parts
- Use half for basting or marinade and use other half for a table dip.
Last updated: 4 July 2017