If you like our grilling blog and follow me on YouTube, you probably think you know a thing or two about authentic Argentine asado. After all, it’s an emblem of the world’s gastronomy, the ritual that brings family and friends together every Sunday, and the ultimate test of food passion. But do you know the secrets of a perfect barbecue, or are you just winging it with the fire and the meat? Don’t worry, I’m here to help you. I’m going to share with you 10 tips that will make you the grill master and earn you the applause of your guests. So put on your apron, grab your tongs, and get ready to grill!

1. Meat, the Diva of the Show

Argentine Skirt Steak

Select your cuts with the precision of a casting director looking for a leading role. Go for a ribeye with more marbling than a soap opera or some ribs that could star in their cooking drama. Always add Beef Ribs! In Argentine asados ribs are a must, they are amazing.

Choose your meat wisely. This is the first and most crucial step for a great asado. You should select high-quality, fresh cuts of meat with the right thickness. The most popular cuts include flank steak, ribeye, skirt steak, sirloin, and tenderloin. You can also include offal such as blood sausage, chorizo, sweetbreads, and thick intestine. Don’t be fooled by supermarket deals or labels that say “premium” or “select.” It’s best to visit a trusted butcher who can provide advice and cut the meat to your preference. 

The top tip here is to look for freshness in the meat and understand the supply chain so you can make an informed decision about what meat you would like to put on your Argentine grill! That being said, its wise to choose meat that is bright red, and “glossy” instead of darker and opaque. 

2. Fire it up!

Asado Fire

Fire it up, baby! A true “asador argentino” can’t mess around with a feeble fire; you need to set the stage with some flaming charisma. Fire is the soul of the barbecue and should be ready before you start cooking. Ideally, use dry wood, which imparts a special aroma and flavor to the meat. If you’re using charcoal, ensure it’s of good quality and well-lit. The fire should be moderate and consistent, and you should have enough to sustain it throughout the barbecue. Avoid using paper, alcohol, or other accelerants to ignite the fire, as they can contaminate the meat and cause accidents. It’s best to use a bit of thin wood, some dry leaves, or pinecones and patiently blow on them until the fire catches. And if you have a blower or a set of bellows, even better!

3. Having all the essential tools within arm’s reach

In the delightful world of Argentinian asados, the grill master must have every necessary gadget at their fingertips. You don’t want to be caught off guard and ruin the meat like a true amateur! So, first things first, those long, graceful tongs are your best friend. They’re not just for show; they’re your trusty tools for flipping the meat without poking holes in it – a cardinal sin in the asado world!

Now, here’s where things get spicy – literally! You’ll need a pair of gloves, not because the grill is cold and needs warming up, but to safely handle those hot grates. We wouldn’t want you to end up with grill marks on your fingertips, would we?

But wait, there’s more! In the unpredictable world of asados, sometimes flames decide to do their own tango. For that, you must have a trusty spray bottle within arm’s reach. It’s not just for extinguishing rogue flames; it’s also a handy tool for giving your guests a refreshing mist. Who needs a fancy spa when you’ve got an asado?

4. Salt: The Flavorful Superstar of Meat Seasoning

Season the meat with coarse salt. Salt is the only superstar in the flavor department here – it’s like the Beyoncé of seasonings. Just sprinkle that salty diva right before you toss the meat on the grill, using the chunky stuff, and make sure it’s evenly distributed. No need to invite the fine salt or any other flavor wannabes to the party; they’ll just get burnt and crash the flavor extravaganza. And don’t go overboard with the salt – we’re aiming for meat flavor, not a mouth-puckering dried-up sea monster. The golden rule is a tablespoon of salt per kilo of meat. If you’re feeling fancy, you can also throw in some sprigs of rosemary or thyme for that extra flavor pizzazz – they’ll add a delightful aroma, like a gourmet red carpet entrance.

5. Turning Up the Heat and Keeping Your Cool

Control the grill temperature. The grill should be clean and greased and at the right distance from the flames. To check if the grill is ready, you can place your hand over it and count to five. If you can’t take it anymore, it’s way too hot. If you can tough it out, it’s way too cold. The sweet spot is when you can count to five without turning your hand into a barbecue mitt. To adjust the temperature, you can raise or lower the grill or play around with the fire. You could also use a grill thermometer for an exact reading, but don’t just trust the numbers; rely on your intuition and experience as well.

6. Respect Time: patience is a virtue

You should only throw some of the meat on the grill at a time, you must follow the cooking hierarchy of each cut.

The key to mastering this culinary adventure is to kick things off with the thick cuts, like the vacio or flank steaks, rack of ribs, and that wide strip steak. The vacio starts its sizzling journey skin-side down, while the wide strip steak chooses the bone-side path. Cooking times are a bit like playing the lottery – usually, it’s somewhere in the ballpark of 1 hour to 1 hour and a half, depending on how hefty your meat friends are feeling.

Now, it’s showtime for the chinchulines – the indispensable Argentine barbecue comrades. They waltz onto the grill almost simultaneously with our earlier meaty stars and strut their stuff for about 50 minutes until they are ready.

In the next act, you introduce the sweetbreads and those daintier cuts like tenderloin, the tail of rump, and the regular strip steak. After 15 minutes, you throw in the sausages, and in about 30 to 40 minutes, they’ll be in perfect harmony.

Lastly, it’s time to give a warm welcome to the blood sausages, the “morcillas.” They’re low-maintenance, they just need a little heating up. After 15 minutes on the stage, your culinary ensemble is ready to steal the show, complete with sausages and offal. Voilà, the grand unveiling of the ultimate guide to transforming meat into a work of art, Argentine style!

7. The Magical Marinade

Asado Marinade

A marinade or salmuera is like the makeup for your meat. It’s the secret sauce that turns a humble cut into a superstar of the grill. But what is the best marinade for asado, the traditional Argentine barbecue? To make it shine, you need a simple but flavorful marinade that enhances its natural taste and texture. Here are the ingredients you need to make your own magical marinade for asado:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil: This is the base of your marinade. It helps the meat absorb the other flavors and keeps it moist and tender. Use about half a cup of oil for every kilogram of meat.
  • Finely chopped garlic: Garlic adds a punch of aroma and flavor to your marinade. It also has antibacterial properties that help preserve the meat. Use about four cloves of garlic for every kilogram of meat.
  • Fresh herbs: Herbs are the soul of your marinade. They add freshness and complexity to your meat. You can use any herbs you like, but some of the most common ones for asado are oregano, thyme, rosemary, and parsley. Use about a quarter cup of chopped herbs for every kilogram of meat.
  • Spices: Spices are the magic of your marinade. They add color and heat to your meat. You can use any spices you like, but some of the most common ones for asado are salt, black pepper, paprika, and cumin. Use about a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of each spice for every kilogram of meat.

To make your marinade, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Then, take your meat and rub it generously with the marinade, making sure to cover every inch. Place the meat in a large ziplock bag or a glass container and refrigerate it for at least four hours, or overnight for better results. The longer you marinate, the more flavor your meat will have.

8. Don’t Poke the Meat!

In an Argentinian asado, there’s a sacred rule: “Thou shalt not poke the meat!” Seriously, it’s almost a sin to stab or slice that juicy meat just to check if it’s done. It’s like sending the flavorful juices on an unscheduled vacation 😂 ! The tiniest cut can turn your meat into a Sahara Desert mirage. And oh, let’s not forget that those runaway juices can cause a fiery spectacle, turning your grill into a flamethrower, and you into a BBQ firefighter. So, instead of playing ‘Whack-a-Mole’ with your meat, always have a trusty spatula by your side to flip it like a pro. Your taste buds will thank you, and your asado will be the stuff of legends! 

9. Grill Governance

Now, picture this. Your parrilla, that sizzling stage where the magic happens, needs its own little act – the cover. This piece of grill theatre is like the conductor of a symphony, ensuring the heat dances all over the grill, serenading your meats to perfection.

But, here’s the kicker: if you leave the cover open, it’s like inviting the heat to a party it can’t attend. And what does that mean? Yep, you guessed it – longer cooking times. The large cuts of meat will be sitting there, wondering when the show’s going to start.

Oh, and let’s not forget about the notorious grill flares we discussed earlier. They are like the uninvited guests who crash your barbecue bash. Closing the lid is like handing them a polite “Sorry, you’re not on the guest list.”

10. Patience!

Asado being cut

You don’t rush an asado, my friend. It’s not a sprint; it’s a slow and glorious marathon of carnivorous delight. From the moment you spark up that fire, until you finally grace the table with your masterpiece, you’re looking at about three hours, more or less.

Now, this is no sport for the impatient souls. It’s like waiting for that mate who’s always fashionably late to the barbecue, but in this case, we’re all in it together. So, instead of watching the clock, embrace the waiting game with a wry smile. Trust me, the anticipation only makes the meat taste even better. Besides, as they say, good things come to those who wait… especially when they involve sizzling meat, a little fire, and a whole lot of camaraderie.

11. Let the meat kick back before slicing it

To ensure the Argentine asado experience is truly outstanding, the slices of meat must arrive at the cutting board intact, and without cooling down too much. They should rest for a few moments to facilitate the redistribution of juices and prevent them from bleeding out prematurely at the first cut before they make it to the plates. This step not only ensures the juiciest and most flavorful results but also adds an extra layer of anticipation and excitement to the whole Asado gathering. So, let those succulent meat cuts settle for a while before you dive in!

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