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Asado

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Asado is a South American social practise and technique for cooking cuts of meat, usually consisting of beef alongside various other meats, which are cooked on a grill (parrilla) or open fire.

Left: A typical Argentinean asado consisting of: Beef, Pork, Ribs, Pork Ribs, Chitterlings, Sweetbread, Sausage, Blood Sausage, Chicken.

Asado is the traditional dish of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and southern Brazil.

An asado typically has a sequence of meats presented by the parillero (the cooker). First are the chorizos, morcillas (black pudding), chinchulines (chitterlings), mollejas (sweetbread) and other organs, often accompanied by provoleta, a grilled cheese dish. Sometimes these are served on a coal-heated brasero. Then costillas or asado de tira (ribs) are served. Next comes vacío (flank steak), matambre and possibly chicken and chivito (baby goat). 

An asado also includes bread, a simple mixed salad of, for instance, lettuce, tomato and onions, or it could be accompanied with verdurajo (grilled vegetables), a mixture made of potatoes, corn, onion and eggplant cooked on the parrilla and seasoned with olive oil and salt. Beer, wine, soda and other beverages are common. Dessert is usually fresh fruit.

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An asado can be made al asador or a la parrilla. In the first case a fire is made on the ground or in a fire pit and surrounded by metal crosses (asadores) that hold the entire carcass of an animal splayed open to receive the heat from the fire.

Left: An asado on an open pit.

In the second case, a fire is made and after the coals have formed, a grill (parrilla) is placed over with the meat to be cooked.

Another traditional form to mainly roast the meat, used in the Argentine and Chilean Patagonias, is with the whole animal (specially lamb and pork) in a wood stick nailed in the ground and exposed to the heat of live coals, called asado al palo.

The meat for an asado is not marinated, the only preparation being the application of salt before and/or during the cooking period. Also, the heat and distance from the coals are controlled to provide a slow cooking; it usually takes around 2 hours to cook an asado. Further, grease from the meat is not encouraged to fall on the coals and create smoke which would adversely flavour the meat, indeed in some asados the area directly under the meat is kept clear of coals.

The asado is usually placed in a tray to be immediately served, but it can also be placed on a brasero right on the table to keep the meat warm. Chimichurri, a sauce of chopped parsley, dried oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, onion, and paprika with olive oil. or salsa criolla, a sauce of tomato and onion in vinegar, are common accompaniments to an asado, where they are traditionally used on the offal, but not the steaks.

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