What is an Asado?


A traditional asado, or “asado criollo” is a specific way of grilling meat based on the customs of European descendants to Argentina. There is an entire method and system in place for cooking, serving, and eating the meat. In other words, an asado is not just “throwing meat on the grill,” it is an elaborate and purposeful set of customs.

When cooking the meat, the chef needs to be attentive to factors both above and below the grill. Beneath the grill, a traditional asado typically combines brasa (red hot coals) and leña (firewood), although the type of wood used is up for debate and varies region to region. The actual temperature of the grill, the distance from the coals, and the cooking times vary chef to chef, but generally the meat rests for the majority of time on one side (again, depending on the chef, tendency of the grill and the cut of meat), and is seasoned only with a pinch of salt. Borrowing from the gaucho need for conservation, an asado does not just include the best cuts of meat- there are potentially dozens of different parts of the animal served during the meal.

Generally, an asado begins with chorizo (sausage) and a black pudding, followed by various achuras (sweetbreads), before the serving of the meat. Ribs are traditionally brought out first, followed by the hindquarter cut; occasionally a third cut of meat is included. In all, a whole meal may consist of numerous cuts and preparations of the meat, including ribs, chorizo, black pudding, chinchulin (intestine), riñones (kidney), hindquarter meat, udder meat, criadillas (testicles), sweetbreads, stomach, and matambre. Many asados also include chicken, pork, lamb, and vegetables (most commonly peppers).

The meat is traditionally served with a chimichurri sauce, a mildly spicy mixture that includes spices, garlic, onion, and vinegar. All asados are also accompanied by a mixed salad and ideally served with a Malbec, a strong and slightly spicy red wine for which Argentina is known.

Of course asados are constantly being altered, updated, or open to interpretation. What should always accompany the cuts of meat is plenty of free time (asados normally last for quite a while) and good company.

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