Asado is more than just a typical barbecue. It is an integral part of Argentina’s culture and culinary heritage. With its distinct flavors and cooking techniques, asado has gained popularity worldwide.
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about asado – from its origins to its preparation and unique Argentine traditions.
What does asado mean?
Asado in Argentina consists of meat, usually a large piece from the animal´s ribs (“asado de costilla”), that is roasted on a iron spit on embers made of wood for 4/5 hours in an open space.
“The beef diet must have a wonderful effect in hardening and strengthening the gauchos: they scarcely ever have anything the matter with them…“(Hinchliff – 1863)
Today, the main dish in the Buenos Aires Pampa is beef cooked in a grill with embers made of a native tree like espinillo and some others.
And if there exists one style of eating that defines an Argentina person in the eyes fo the foreigner, it is the Argentina asado originally produced by the gauchos.
Identified by the use of the parrilla, this primitive form of cooking meat, the lifeblood of the gaucho and the dwellers of the vast pampas, and later adopted by towns-people and Buenos Aires city folk, is the trademark of our national gastronomy.
From its simplest to its most opulent form, it is almost impossible to tour around the country without coming face to face with a parrilla at work.
Today´s asado pampa argentina, prepared on the parrilla, is a far cry from the roasts of yesterday in the Estancias.
Origins of Asado
To truly understand asado, we must delve into its ancient origins. Asado dates back to the early Gauchos, skilled horsemen and cattle herders in the Argentine plains. They would gather around the fire and cook meat using various primitive techniques. Over time, asado evolved into a beloved social activity, with families and friends coming together to enjoy this traditional culinary experience.
The centerpiece of asado is, undoubtedly, the meat. Argentina is renowned for its high-quality beef, and asado showcases the best cuts in all their glory. From succulent ribeye steaks to juicy pork sausages, asado offers a wide range of meat options that cater to every palate.
One of the essential cuts you’ll find in an asado is the asado de tira or beef short ribs. These flavorful and tender ribs are typically slow-cooked over an open flame, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth delight. Other popular cuts include sirloin, flank steak, and sausage.
Asado offers a myriad of cooking techniques that elevate its flavors. One such method is the famous parrilla, where the meat is cooked over a wood or charcoal fire. The combination of the smoke and heat imparts a distinct smoky flavor that is the hallmark of asado. The slow cooking process allows the meat to remain tender and juicy.
Another technique often used in asado is the achuras, which refers to the offal or organ meats. These include sweetbreads, kidneys, and sausages made from blood or intestine. While achuras may sound unusual to some, they are an integral part of the Argentine asado experience.
Traditional Asado Customs
In Argentina, asado is not just about the food; it is a social event that brings people together. Families and friends gather around the grill, engaging in lively conversations while sipping on mate, a traditional Argentine herbal tea.
The asador, the person in charge of the grill, holds a respected role during asado gatherings. They carefully tend to the fire, ensuring the perfect balance of heat and smoke for a memorable dining experience.
In addition to the delicious meats, side dishes like chimichurri and provoleta are often served with asado. Chimichurri, a flavorful sauce made with parsley, garlic, and red pepper flakes, adds a burst of freshness to the rich meat flavors. Provoleta, a grilled provolone cheese, serves as a delectable appetizer.
Overall, asado is more than just a method of cooking meat; it is a cultural institution in Argentina. Its heritage, customs, and unique flavors make it a must-try experience for any food enthusiast. Whether you visit Argentina or try to replicate an authentic asado at home, you are guaranteed to savor a taste that is deeply rooted in Argentina’s history and traditions.