In this first session of Argentine Asado we will be grilling a traditional Argentine cut of meat, the brisket, known as a Vacio in Argentina. We will also be cooking a Kaboocha filled with veggies and cheese!
Choosing a good vacio is crucial to enjoying a juicy, tender and tasty. I recommend choosing the cut that has a good layer of skin, without too much fat and of a vibrant red texture. The ideal size of a vacio (brisket) should be between 1.5-3kgs.
They say that a good Argentine BBQ starts with a great fire! The majority of Argentine asado’s are not cooked directly over flames but over the coals. To start the fire we kindle thing piece of wood with some paper, and then we are ready to go.
To stoke a great fire we need to supply good fuel! I have used a hardwood, Piquillin (link below). Now you have started the fire, you can apply the hardwood logs, go steady and slowly build it up.
To prepare the Brisket for grilling first we will apply butter to both sides of the meat, ideally heat the butter to make it easier to apply. Once we have buttered the vacio (brisket) we will cut deep holes into the meat fibre and poke small garlic into the small pockets.
Finally, we will apply salt and pepper.
Take the coals from under the fire and heat up the grill - It takes a least 10 minutes to heat up the grill fully before putting the meat on to cook, make sure you can hold your hand over the grill for at least 10 - 15 seconds to gage the right heat.
Once your grill is heated up, create a circle of coals, it is really important that the circle of coals is the same size as the brisket. This circle will help prevent overcooking the centre part of the Vacio, as it's much thinner than the outer portion of the cut.
Take the vacio and lay it on the grill, with the thicker skin down, make sure the thicker side is down on the grill.
The Brisket will be on the grill, thick side down, for 1 hour and 15-30 mins before turning it to the other side.
Preparing the Kabocha for grilling and filling it with vegetables, spices and cheese is a unique experience! First, we will cut the top off the Kabocha and with a spoon remove the pips from within the Kabocha. Keep the lid of the Kabocha handy as we will use it later!
Under the grill prepare an area of coals and make sure that they are evenly spread out so the heat under the Kabocha is consistent.
Put the Kabocha on the grill, open side down, so the inside can cook slowly and consistently.
The Kabocha will be on the grill, top side down for 1 hour and 15 mins before turning it and filling it with the vegetables!
While we wait for the Brisket and Kabocha to slowly cook let’s prepare the veggies.
Dice, 1 onion, 1 pepper, cream cheese and blue cheese.
After 1 hour and 15 min, the Brisket should have turned a golden crispy colour - it's now ready to turn over! You should only turn the brisket once during the cooking process!
With the help of grabbers or a fork, slowly turn the Brisket over you should notice that juice will appear within the layer of skin and meat, this is normal and if it hits the coals it will cause some smoke! This is great for the aroma!
It's important throughout the whole cooking process to keep the coals under the Brisket with consistent heat, a good rule is to hold your hand over the grill for 10-15 seconds.
Now you have turn the Brisket you can turn the Kabocha.
Once you have turned it over (not as easy as it looks!) fill it with the diced veggies and cheese. Put all the veggies, cheese and spices into the squash and then put the lid back on so that it heats up and helps cook them!
Wait patiently for 1 hour and 15 minutes and the Vacio and Kabocha should be ready to go!
It's time to take the Brisket and Kabocha off the grill, and enjoy good food!