The term Asado means roasted: Asado is the Argentinian version of Barbecue. Grilled meat is cooked slowly over hot coals, accompanied by the ever-present chimichurri sauce. This roasting method is different from the barbecue we are accustomed to: the method was first used by Gauchos in the Pampas about a century ago. Meat was originally cooked on a metal cross-shaped frame but, for practical purposes, a classic metal grid called the parilla is now placed over the embers.
Here's how to prepare the Asado, the perfect Argentinian barbecue.
How to prepare the Asado
Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, chimichurri sauce, salt and pepper.
Most important for a great Asado grill is the choice of the right cuts of meat to put on the parilla. We choose beef, lamb, pork and chicken; a good butcher will advise on the best parts (such as lamb chops, pork sausages and boneless chicken thighs). Once the meats have been chosen, it is marinating time!
Place the meat in a large glass bowl or ceramic container. Add a sprinkling of coarse salt, pepper, a few sprigs of rosemary and a generous dose of chimichurri sauce. Massage the meat, to ensure that the sauce is distributed evenly over all cuts. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remember to remove the meat from the fridge at least an hour before cooking: thermal shock may compromise the quality of your barbecue!
We prepare the grill. If you use wood, choose oak or a very hard wood as these burn slowly. Spread the wood evenly under the grill, to make sure the embers cover the entire cooking surface.
If you use charcoal, arrange the pieces in the form of a pyramid, setting firelighters between one level and another. This way of lighting the charcoal ensures ventilation and a constant flame. When the charcoal briquettes are lit and have a thin, light-coloured coating on their surface, they will be ready to cook the meat.
Dry the meat with absorbent paper to remove residue from marination. Wipe the grill with a rag soaked in olive oil to remove any impurities and to prepare the metal for holding the food. Arrange the meat on the grill and start cooking!
Little tricks for best results? Never use a fork for turning the meat when cooking: use forceps or a spatula. Always use gloves, pot holders and tea towels when handling tools: the Asado-cooked hand is not a tasty dish! Give the meat traditional flavour by brushing it with chimichurri sauce when cooking: you can use a sprig of rosemary to do this.
One last tip? Put plenty of wood or charcoal under the grill in advance. Bear in mind it will not be possible to top it up later: preparing a good base for the fire is therefore essential for cooking all your cuts of meat.
The perfect wines for the Argentinian Asado
With all this meat sizzling on the grill, a red is a must! Choose a robust and decisive wine, as this is perfect for accompanying the character of the meat and sauce. Try a Toscana Rosso Selvato: the soft and balanced tannins leave a velvety impression that complements the aromatic richness of the Asado. Serve with cuts of beef.
A white wine with a rich and inviting bouquet is recommended for accompanying lamb and pork, especially ribs and chops. The freshness and structure of the Soave DOC will convince even the most skeptical of wine lovers. A sip for cleansing the oily impressions left by the fattest meat, and another for completing the Asado experience with an expressive touch of fragrance.
And finally, when steaming chicken arrives on the table, serve an exclusive Esclusivo Rosato Puglia IGT Gold Label: yes, even the rosé has its place at a barbecue. This rosé pairs perfectly with Asado chicken. The greater the delicacy of the dish, with its juicy cuts cooked to perfection, the greater the elegance of this wine in the glass. The intriguing Mediterranean spirit of this rosé is mitigated by an agile and fresh body. Its hints of freshness and fruit are able to create continuity among wonderfully intense flavours. A convincing, non-trivial and effective wine pairing.
Argentina has a custom: when an Asado is over and the embers begin to die out, satisfied guests call out: Un aplauso para el Asador! and then the applause starts.
Do you want to know if your first Asado was a success? Wait for the diners’ applause... and join them in a toast to your next BBQ!