Tag Archives: asado

Mark’s Mighty Asado

Today is Sunday and our last day in San Rafael with our extended WOOFing family. To celebrate, we hosted a fiesta yesterday, which featured over ten litres of wine, one chicken, one goat and a lot of sunshine.

After learning about the Patagonian style of cooking lamb I (Mark) set myself the goal of learning how to cook one while we were living in San Rafael. The farewell fiesta was the perfect excuse! As we have mentioned, chivo (goat) is the popular meat in Mendoza. So, since I couldn't buy lamb, this was the best choice.

We went on a bit of search in the city to find a butcher (carniceria) that could sell us a whole goat. As it turns out this was harder than we thought. The goats are bred in Malargüe, which is two hours drive away, so not everyone stocks it. But we did find two cheerful geezers who were only too happy to sell me 9.7 kgs of frozen chivo.

The process for cooking a goat in the Patagonian style takes about 7 hours, depending on the climate, the size of the carcass and the amount of wood you have. I started at 8 am in the morning. Managed to get the fire going before preparing the framework that would hold up the carcass.

The crucifixion in action.

Once that was ready it was carried outside and planted in a hole 40 cm deep and around 1 metre from the fire.

Carcass Cam.

The idea is that you drag hot coals close to the meat to slow cook it. If the day is cold or there's wind etc you can control the heat by adding more coals or shifting the fire closer.

Every couple of hours the whole carcass is basted with saltwater, about a litre in total. It is also important to rotate it on its axis to prevent the meat from getting too hot (remember that the idea is to slow cook it!) and ensure the meat is cooked evenly.

After five hours we added a chicken to the parilla. We bought a whole chicken, which was butterflied and seasoned with paprika, chilli, salt and pepper a day in advance. You can also add vegetables and/or sausages, but we cooked our vegies seperately.

Racking in more coals. Chicken on the right. The grill is raised on bricks with hot embers underneath.

At 2:30 the meat was good to go! Took great joy in carving the meat straight off the frame. Good fun.

The meal was a huge success, everyone was happy, plenty of food and wine to go round and some beautiful sunshine to keep us warm.

¡Salud!

 

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The Mighty Argentine Asado

We love a good barbeque. We've hosted many a cook up that have left people asleep on our couches and floors with full stomachs. When we were planning our trip many friends mentioned that Argentina was famous for barbeques, so we were determined to try and learn their secrets.

Street food on sale in San Telmo, Buenos Aires.

The Argentine's call their BBQs 'asados', but you will also hear 'parilla', which refers to cooking on a grill. They cook their food over hot coals or embers, which are topped up from a nearby fire. The BBQs are typically cooked in the open, although you may also see pizza ovens used as well.

Restaurant grill in La Boca, Buenos Aires.

They also have slightly different cuts of meat to what we are used to in NZ and Australia, plus there's the blood sausage (morcilla) and the chorizo. All this this is drizzled in generous amounts of chimichurri, the national sauce (its awesome).

A parilla underway at our friend Ana's farm in San Rafael.

The results.

If that gets the taste buds going, the Patagonian style of barbequing lamb, beef and goat takes things to a whole new level. As per the pic below, the animal is butterflied on a vertical rack and slow cooked over a fire. The meat is basted in salt or salt water and rotated to make sure it is cooked on both sides. Mark reckons it is the best meat he has ever tasted (its emotional).

The meat on offer does change based on where you are. As a friend told us, you can get cow (vaca) everywhere, but down south lamb (cordero) is very popular. Goat (chivo) replaces lamb in the Mendoza region and suckling pig (cerdo) can be found in some parts.

Two whole lambs cooked in the traditional Patagonian style.

The parilla is a feature of everyday life in Argentina. The grill is included on family trips and the smell of food cooking wafts across many a park. We love it and have been lucky to have local friends show us how it is done…

A gent in traditional 'gaucho' attire cooks a meal on the 25th of May, Revolution Day.

To be continued.

 


Mendoza

Mendoza is a nice city in the heart of Argentina's wine region, surrounded by snow capped mountains and plenty of vineyards.

While we were in town, we thought it would be fun to go on a horseriding adventure, to experience the sunset over the desert and mountains. The tour also came with an Argentine asado (massive slabs of bbq meat) and all the wine you can drink. We made friends with a couple of Kiwis and some Canadians, and all made the most of it!
The wine of choice is Malbec, a delicious red which only grows in this region. We tasted plenty of wine, both in the city and at the vineyard's cellar door. We spent one afternoon on bikes riding around the tree lined streets of Maipu, although this required a little more effort than we wanted at the time, as we were feeling somewhat sorry for ourselves after all the wine from the previous night!

Di Tomassi vineyard.


Di Tomassi and Bianchi vineyards.

Despite that, we managed a tour of one of the oldest cellars, and found a gourmet liqueur and chocolate place as well. Apparently they make their own absynth there, so Mark tried a shot, then bought a bottle!
We had a great time and we are planning to go back for a few nights in June! Bring on the vino.

 


Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime

So the people at WordPress are promoting a blog photo challenge for the month of March. We thought we would jump in as this week's theme is 'lunchtime'. We had two Argentinian barbecue lunches over the weekend so the timing is perfect!

Lunchtime! An asado at an Argentine restaurant in La Boca, Buenos Aires.

The above is a huge asado, or barbecue, that we stumbled across in La Boca on Sunday. Asados are basically large BBQ meals slow cooked on a grill over coal. You will typically find chorizos (Spanish sausage), morcillas (a blood sausage), pork chops, kidneys, livers, lamb and beef all spread out on the same grill. On this day I went for one chorizo and a morcilla. They were served with bread (breadbaskets are typically free with the meal) and two traditional condiments: a basic onion salsa and chimichurri.

And what is chimichurri? Only the best barbecue sauce I've ever tasted! It is made from parsley, oregano, garlic, oil, vinegar and chilli. It is so damn good I am going out to buy a bottle from the supermarket right now…

¡Hasta luego!

PS I will write more posts on the asados soon.