How to Grill the Perfect Argentine Asado with Chimichurri?

May 12, 2024

Grilling is all about mastering the art of heat and meat. It's a skill that requires a delicate balance of time, temperature, and tenderness. But, what if we told you that this skill could be taken up a notch? Yes, we are talking about grilling the Argentinian way, incorporating a classic technique of cooking meat called Asado, along with a tangy, flavorful sauce- Chimichurri. It's a combination that is steeped in culture, tradition, and some seriously good flavor.

A Brief Introduction to Argentine Asado and Chimichurri

Before we dive into the recipes and grilling techniques, let's take a moment to understand the cultural importance of Asado and Chimichurri in Argentina.

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Asado is not just a way of cooking meat. It is a social event, a gathering of friends and family around a grill, or "parrilla", where large chunks of meat are slow-cooked to perfection. The meats used in Asado can range from beef ribs, sausages, to goat and more, making it a versatile cooking method.

Chimichurri, on the other hand, is a sauce that has become synonymous with Argentine food. Made with fresh parsley, garlic, vinegar, oil, and chili flakes, this sauce is a burst of flavor that cuts through the richness of the grilled meat, providing balance and depth to the dish.

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Ingredients for Argentine Asado and Chimichurri Sauce

Before we proceed with the step-by-step cooking instructions, let's make sure you have all the necessary ingredients on hand.

For the Asado, you will need:

  • Beef ribs or any other meat of your choice
  • Coarse salt
  • Black pepper

For the Chimichurri, the ingredients are:

  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh oregano
  • Garlic cloves
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

If you prefer your food with a bit more heat, feel free to add some extra chili flakes or even a touch of hot sauce to the Chimichurri recipe.

Step-by-Step Guide to Grilling Asado

With the ingredients in place, we can now start the process of grilling. Remember, Asado is about slow, indirect cooking, allowing the meat to become tender and flavorful.

Firstly, light your grill. You want to set up a two-zone fire, meaning one side of the grill is hotter than the other. This is done by stacking more coals on one side.

Once the grill is hot, season your meat generously with the coarse salt and pepper. Place the meat on the cooler side of the grill, bone side down. The idea is to cook the meat slowly, allowing the fat to render out and the meat to stay juicy.

Remember to flip the meat every 15-20 minutes, making sure each side gets its share of the heat. The entire grilling process can take up to 3-4 hours, depending on the thickness of the meat.

How to Make the Perfect Chimichurri Sauce?

While your Asado is grilling, it's time to prepare the Chimichurri sauce.

In a bowl, finely chop the parsley, oregano, and garlic. Add these to the bowl along with the red wine vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

This sauce is best when made fresh, but it can also be kept in the fridge for a day or two. The flavors intensify over time, making it even more delicious.

Serving the Asado with Chimichurri

As soon as the Asado is grilled to perfection, transfer it to a chopping board and let it rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, making it even more succulent.

Once rested, slice the meat against the grain and serve it up with a generous spoonful of the Chimichurri sauce. The bright, acidic sauce cuts through the rich meat, creating a harmony of flavors that is hard to resist.

Remember, grilling the perfect Argentine Asado with Chimichurri is not just about following a set of instructions or a recipe. It's about the experience, the joy of cooking and sharing food with loved ones. It's about creating memories around the grill. So, next time you fire up your grill, give this Argentinian grilling method a try. You might just find your new favorite way to grill.

Understanding Variations of Asado and Chimichurri

Now that we have a basic understanding of the Argentine Asado and Chimichurri, let's delve a little deeper and explore the various ways in which these two can be improvised and enjoyed.

The beauty of Argentine Asado is its adaptability. You're not limited to just beef ribs. You can experiment with other meats like pork, chicken, or even lamb. In Argentina, you might also find people grilling offal, such as chitterlings, sweetbreads, and kidneys, which are all traditional parts of an Asado.

The type of wood or charcoal you use for your grill can also greatly affect the flavor of the meat. In Argentina, Quebracho wood is often used, which gives the meat a distinct smoky flavor. However, you can experiment with different types of wood and charcoal available to you.

Moving on to Chimichurri, this sauce is highly customizable as well. In addition to the classic ingredients like parsley, garlic, and red pepper flakes, you can add cilantro for a fresh twist, or even some mustard for an extra tang. The Gaby Melian version of Chimichurri includes lemon juice for extra acidity, and replacing red pepper flakes with finely chopped fresh red pepper for a mellow heat.

Remember that the best Chimichurri sauce should have a balance of flavors - spicy from the red pepper, tangy from the vinegar and lemon juice, and fresh from the parsley and garlic.

The Art of Pairing Asado with Sides

An Argentine Asado is not complete without its traditional sides. These sides not only complement the Asado but also provide a complete dining experience.

One of the most popular sides is a simple salad of lettuce, tomato, and onion, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. The freshness of the salad helps to balance the heaviness of the grilled meat.

Another essential side is bread. In Argentina, it's common to serve Asado with a crusty baguette or a soft, doughy bread called pan casero. The bread is perfect for mopping up the juices of the meat and the Chimichurri sauce.

Other popular sides include grilled vegetables, like peppers and eggplants, and potatoes, either roasted in the embers of the grill or boiled and served with sea salt and olive oil.

And of course, no Asado would be complete without a bottle of Argentine Malbec. This full-bodied red wine with its fruity notes and smooth tannins pairs beautifully with the robust flavors of the Asado.

Conclusion

Grilling the perfect Argentine Asado and pairing it with a tangy Chimichurri sauce is a journey of flavors, techniques, and tradition. It's a process that celebrates the simplicity of ingredients - the meat, the herbs, the vinegar, the olive oil - and turns them into a feast to be shared and enjoyed.

The key to a great Asado lies in patience and understanding of heat. Slow and indirect grilling allows the meat to become tender and flavorful, while the Chimichurri sauce brings a burst of freshness and tanginess to cut through the richness of the meat.

Remember, Asado is more than just a meal. It's a social event, an opportunity to gather around the grill, share stories, and create memories. So, the next time you plan a BBQ party, consider grilling the Argentine Asado way. And don’t forget the Chimichurri sauce!