October 18, 2022

How to Grill an Argentine Rack of Beef Ribs (Asado Costillar)

This is the second Argentine Asado vlog, and today we will be cooking an Argentine rack of ribs, also known as “Asado” or “Costillar” in Argentina. This is a recognized cut in Argentina and is the centrepiece of any true Argentine BBQ.  In this Argentine grilling session we will learn how to prepare the meat, […]

Jason Pittock

October 18, 2022

This is the second Argentine Asado vlog, and today we will be cooking an Argentine rack of ribs, also known as “Asado” or “Costillar” in Argentina. This is a recognized cut in Argentina and is the centrepiece of any true Argentine BBQ. 

In this Argentine grilling session we will learn how to prepare the meat, fire and coals, and most importantly the timing to ensure the rack of ribs are tender, juicy and filled with taste!

Step 1 -  Start By Preparing The Rack of Ribs or Asado (Costillar)

First of all, we will start by preparing the rack of ribs, and this starts with making sure your knife is sharp and ready. 

You will notice that I choose a smaller rack of ribs around 3.5kgs (Which would be approx 7 pounds). You can notice that the meat fibre is bright red, this is a good sign of the freshness of the cut, other than if you are drying ageing! The rack ribs weighed around 3.5kgs (7 pounds) which would be good for approximately 5 people (animate the weight to people ratio)

Make sure your knife is sharp and ready and start removing any excess rat from the rack of ribs.

When removing excess fat from the ribs, it's important to have a healthy balance between how much you want to remove and what you want to keep on.

Once you have removed any excess fat, mark the back of the ribs to be able to remove the rib from the meat once cooked. This is key to exposing the rib once the rack is cooked. 

Take a small amount of olive or seed oil and spread it on the meat, this will help to keep it humid and glazed. 

rack of beef ribs
The Perfect Rack Of Beef Ribs - Argentine Costillar De Asado

It’s now time to salt the rack of ribs. I personally like to salt the rack of ribs before putting them on the grill. Also, it helps absorption with the oil and curing slightly the skin prevents juices from evaporating too quickly. 

I used a coarse grain of salt, mixed with pepper, sweet chilli and oregano. Make sure to salt both sides of the meat, and rub it into the fibres on the side so all the meat gets an even coat of salt and pepper. You can add further spices, this is a personal choice, I have seen people add garlic and parsley powder, or curry powder!  

Step 2 - Get The Fire Started and Move the Coals Under The Grill

It's time to prepare for the fire. As I often say “all good BBQs start with a great fire”. The typical Argentine bbq always starts with a substantial fire, some use carbon for fuel, I prefer to use hardwood, such as Piquillin. Which is very similar to applewood. Its tough has a great flavour, and most importantly the coals last for up to 60 minutes. It provides stable and consistent “wet” heat. 

Once you have started your fire, stoke it until the coals drop down under the fireplace and allow you to pass the coals under the grill.

Make sure to heat the grill well before you put the rack of ribs on. I recommend around 10 to 15 minutes before putting the meat on the grill. 

To attain more coals from the fire you can loosen up the coals from under the fire using an L-shaped poker or something that allows you to shake the bottom of the fire so the coals fall to the ground under the fire. 

Take the coals from under the fire and move them under the grill to form a bed of coals that is a similar size or slightly larger than the area that the rack of ribs will cover. 

To gauge the right heat for the rack of ribs, you can hold your hand over the grill area for around 10 seconds that’s a good way to get the heat right! (LOL, don’t try this at home folks!)

Step 3 - Putting The Rack of Ribs On The Grill 

Now the grill is warmed up and ready, it's time to take the rack of ribs and put them on the grill. 

For the first 2 hours we will put the rack of ribs on the grill, rib side down. This is very important, you must identify the right side and make sure the ribs are face down on the grill. 

Once the rack of ribs is on the grill, make sure the heat is consistent. Its very important not to overheat the meat, as this leads to toughening the meat, which we don’t want. 

45 minutes into BBQ the Asado or grilling the rack of ribs, make sure to check out for these signals that the cooking process is happening.

Top 3 signals to know your rack of ribs or Asado are cooking:

  1. Fat is sizzling and dripping on the coals
  2. Small bubbles appear on the surface 
  3. The end of the ribs starts to turn golden

The Argentine Asado should always be cooked patiently and not rushing or overheating the grill. I recommend you keep the coals under the grill at around 15-20cm away from the meat. Some BBQ’s come with adjustable grills that allow you to go up and down according to the height you want to grill at and depending on the heat. My grill is fixed at 18cm, which for my style of cooking is perfect. 

Step 4 - After 1.5-2hs Its Time To Turn The Rack of Ribs

2 hours after putting the rack of ribs on the grill it is time to turn them over for the final phase of the cooking session! 

When turning the rack ribs be very careful not to disturb the ribs or tear the surface that has been grilled. 

Use 2 forks to turn the ribs, and make sure to get some extra hands if needed!

Once you have turned the meat, you will need 1-1.5 hours approximately of steady heat on the meat side down. This will depend on the thickness of your rack of ribs, in this cooking session by “Asado” or “Costillar” was around 4cm thick meaning that I could get away with less time, but ultimately the more patience you are the better the end result! 

Step 5 - It’s time to take the rack of ribs off the grill! 

After 1 hour and 30 min, the rack of ribs should have a nice golden colour and be ready for eating! Slowly take the rack of ribs off the grill and to manipulate it easier you can cut it into 2 pieces. Once you have taken the meat off the grill let the meat sit for a few minutes.

It's important not to rush this part, give the meat some time to stabilise its temperature.

Step 6 - It's time to eat! 

Once you have taken the meat off the grill and let it sit for a few mins, it's time to start slicing up those golden ribs! 

The “Asado” should be tender, tasting and slightly crackly on the outside! Enjoy! 

Thanks for watching this video and reading this, please don’t forget to like, subscribe and drop me a comment with ideas for our next grilling session!

FAQS For Grilling an Argentine Rack Of Ribs (Costillar Asado): 

How long does it take to grill an argentine rack of ribs?

The grilling process will vary according to the size of the meat, cut type, thickness and heat. But generally, the grilling process will take between 3 and 4 hours. 

What is the ideal weight for an Argentine rack of ribs?

This will depend on how many people will be eating, but we calculate between 800-1000 grams per person. 

What is a costillar?

The costillar is the Spanish way of saying “ribs” in Argentina. There are multiple ways of saying it such as “Asado de Costilla” “Costillar de Asado” “Tira de asado” these all mean the same thing ultimately which is the rack of ribs.

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