Gaucho grilling is simply the argentine grilling. If you’ve gone to Argentina, you’re probably familiar with Asado. This is the most popular meal in Argentina and is loved by the locals and foreigners. You’ll hear of many cases where a tourist who occasionally visits Argentina always eats Asado as his/her first meal. It is that good.
But then, this popular Asado is more than just a meal or a way of cooking meat which is referred to as gaucho grilling. This is a social occasion, a ritual where loved ones come together to worship and value Argentina’s finest produce, beef. In some places such as Buenos Aires, most blocks of flats have a purpose-built parrilla (barbecue) on the roof and it’s quite common to see giant bonfire smoldering in the window of restaurants.
This gaucho grilling however does not describe the way you do your standard outdoor grilling. They are a system developed by the Argentinian gauchos who needed a way to cook their meat on the grassland. It involves cooking meat over coals and embers.
TIPS TO GAUCHO GRILLING
Use indirect heat by letting the flames die down and cook over coals. Wood is recommended instead of charcoal and the best wood for this are the hardwoods.
For seasoning, use salt and pepper on the meat before grilling and later on toss fresh springs of herbs rosemary into the coals to enhance flavor. Also, add some savory sauces like the natural chimichurri after the meat has rested and you’re ready to serve and eat.
When cooking, go slowly over a long time keeping your heat low. Now you may wonder if the flames and coals that are starting to fade by then are enough. Turns out the leftover heat is just right for keeping the meat tender and juicy, and for capturing the flavor of grilled vegetables.
For those of you purist who likes simplicity in their meal, you can try without sauces or rubs. Instead, just season your food with a “salmuera” (saltwater) baste which is a genius concept since It lets the true flavors of the meats and vegetables come forward, all the while developing a crusty exterior and yielding a juicy, beautiful and flavorful interior.
Do not try to move your ingredients when it comes in contact with the heat. Even if it’s not exactly in the right place, don’t touch as you will break the crisp surface that begins to form and dry out your food.
With those tips in mind, check out this famous Asado recipe.
Argentinian Asado Steak
- 2½ kg meat flank steak, flap, skirt steak, tenderloin (choose the ribs and a cut of meat)
- 6 chorizo sausages
- 400 g chinchuline (refers to the offal of the cow such as the small intestine, kidneys, and sweetbread. Black pudding is also a part of this group.)
- 2 lemons
- coarse salt
- marinade optional if using kidneys
- 10-12 oz. free-range grass-fed beef per person
- First of all, soak the chorizos in a bowl until you are ready to cook them to prevent dryness after cooking.
- Build a fire using charcoal, wood, and paper and once the fire is ready, distribute the embers so you have two areas of one high heat and the other low heat. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top of the embers to prevent the ashes from rising too much.
- Put aside a small additional fire going from where you can take embers to put in the main fire when needed.
- If you decide to chinchulines, wash and clean them first.
- For the Small intestine, clean and take the fat out, making a braid or just rolling it in a circle and put it on the grill. After about 30 minutes turn it and add salt.
- For Kidneys, peel off the membrane they usually come in with, taking out the renal pelvis. Then, wash and leave them overnight in water with vinegar, red wine, or milk.
STEAK: Put the steak on the grill fat side down and let one side brown for 3 minutes before turning it and salt the browned side. Turn the steak and salt on the other brown side after 3 minutes. Rotate the steak every 15 to 20 minutes for a cooking time of about 40 minutes to 1 hour. When ready, let the steak rest for 15 minutes before carving to let the juices settle. Add chimichurri sauce before serving
Look at this tutortial on how to make the chimichurri sauce.
CHINCHULINES: Cook these on a low heat and make sure they are far from the meat to prevent the chinchulines from giving the meat their flavor. This will take about 1 to 1 ½ hour to cook.
KIDNEYS: When on the grill, put aside the area that has the opening of the renal pelvis so it would finish draining. Then turn it around once the kidney has a more rigid texture to the touch (around 30-40 minutes). Make sure to add salt.
CHORIZOS: Take them out of the water and put them on the grill.
BLACK PUDDING: since it’s already cooked, add it last to the grill, 30 min after the rest.