Thursday, August 30, 2012

Asado, The Argentinian Barbecue

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Asado is a term used both for a range of barbecue techniques and the social event of having or attending a barbecue in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, southern Brazil, and Uruguay. It is a traditional dish and also the standard word for barbecue. An asado usually consists of beef alongside various other meats which are cooked on a grill called a parrilla, or on an open fire.

An asado also consists of embutidos, served as appetizers while the meat is cooking. Generally  the embutidos and meats are accompanied by red wine, baguettes, chimichurri sauce and salads.

Chimichurri is made from finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, white or red vinegar, and red pepper flakes.  You will find my recipe at the bottom of this post.

In many asados, chorizos, morcillas (black pudding), chinchulines (cow chitterlings), mollejas (sweetbread), and other organs would be served first while the cuts that require longer preparations are still on the grill. They are usually served with a baguette  as appetizers.  The famous Argentinian empanadas also make their appearance at this time.

After the appetizers, the meat or meats are served, usually with a simple mixed salad of lettuce tomatoes and onions and  a loaf of bread.

Although not Argentinian by birth, I have enjoyed  many an asado both in the States and abroad.  It is by far one of the easiest ways of entertaining for both the host and hostess and lots of fun for the guests.  Everything is done on the grill and the kitchen mess is minimal.  It is also perfect for a large party where some of the guests might not eat meat.  Just throw some chicken on the grill next to the meat and you are covered!

You really can grill any type of meat cut,  from steaks to ribs.  I prefer skirt steak which is juicy and has lots of flavor; but Ribeyes and London Broil also taste great with the chimichurri sauce.

I am posting a menu for a Stateside asado for those of you who, like me,  live in a place where some of these things are non existent or hard to come by.  The Argentinian meat cuts are different from ours but one that is close is the skirt.  Argentinian chorizos are great but if you can't find them use Spanish which are available now everywhere.  No empanadas where you live? No problem, there is a recipe at the end of this post;  or skip and grill some pizzettes or vegetables.  The only thing that is a must is a grill and plenty of wine!

A Simple Asado

Grilled Chorizos
Meat or Chicken Empanadas

Grilled Skirt Steak With Chimichurri Sauce
Grilled Chicken

Big tossed salad (or Caesar salad)
Grilled corn or vegetables are optional, though definitely not part of an asado

Lots of French baguettes, Chimichurri Sauce and hearty red wine, preferably an Argentinian Malbec.  Luigi Bosca and its less expensive second wine, La Linda, are favorites.

Argentinians are not big on dessert, except when it comes to dulce de leche.  I leave that course up to you.

 Some recipes after the break

Depending on the amount of guests, you might want to double or triple the Chimichurri Sauce recipe.  You will be serving it with the chorizos and the steak.

Grilled Skirt Steak With Chimichurri Sauce
1. Light a grill. In a bowl, mix the Chimichurri Sauce

2. Season the skirt steak with salt and pepper and grill over a hot fire until the meat is charred on the outside and rare within, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain. Serve right away, passing the chimichurri sauce at the table.

Chimichurri Sauce 

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. 
  • dash of Worcestershire Sauce, optional

  Mix everything together in a bowl.  Can be made ahead but tastes much better fresh.




 Beef Empanadas



3/4 cup lard
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
Pinch paprika


3 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
1/2 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
1/2 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 lb. boneless beef shoulder, finely diced (you can use ground sirloin)
1 small russet potato, peeled, finely diced, and boiled (I omit)
1/3 cup raisins
8 green Spanish olives, pitted and chopped
3 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 hard-cooked egg, peeled and chopped

1. For the dough: Heat 1 cup water and lard together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the liquid is warm and the lard has melted. Meanwhile, mix together flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour. Put paprika in well, then add a little of the warm liquid and stir with your fingertips to make a wet paste. Pour in remaining liquid while using your hand to work the flour into the liquid. Continue to work dry ingredients into wet ingredients with your hands to form a wet, oily dough. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate until dough is chilled, about 2 hours.

2. For the filling: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers, bouillon cube, paprika, red pepper flakes, white pepper, and cumin, and cook until onions are soft, about 7 minutes. Add beef, season to taste with salt, and cook, stirring, until meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer filling to a large bowl and set aside to cool. Once filling has cooled, add potatoes, raisins, olives, scallions, and egg. Adjust seasonings. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 400°. Tear off pieces of dough and, with your hands, roll into about 12 golf-size balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough balls on a lightly floured surface into 5'' circles. To assemble empanadas, place about 3 tbsp. of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold over and press the edges firmly to seal, starting from the middle and working out to the edges. Curve the ends of the empanada to form a crescent. To make the ''rope'' around edge, pinch 1/2'' of one corner edge between your thumb and index finger and fold edge over onto itself. Pinch and pull another 1/2'' of the edge and fold again, making a rough triangle over the first fold. Repeat this folding around edge, pressing each fold tight. Place empanadas on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

 This recipe is adapted from Saveur

All images Google, Getty



  1. We have several restaurants here that do the Brazilian meal -- usually a salad bar and then the meat comes around and around and around until you're full.

    Sort of like the Melting Pot, after a couple of times, it loses it's luster and if you're craving meat you'd rather spend your many $$$$ for a great steak than the gimmicky Brazilian restaurant.

    But I enjoyed your post -- and it would be a fun way to entertain a crowd.

  2. Our neighbours are from Argentina and they have these BBQ's all the time. You are right, lots of wine and beef! The bread and empanadas are always homemade.

  3. taste buds and salivary glands just exploded with envy...

  4. As a dedicated and enthusiastic carnivore, this looks like a BBQ dream come true for Reggie. Like MLS, my salivary glands are going into overdrive!


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