Argentine Barbecue: Asado

One of the things Argentina is famous for is it’s meat.  The Argentine asado is essentially a barbecue- with beef (carne), chicken (pollo), sausage (chorizo and morsilla), lamb (cordero) and other meats. In Spanish the word “asado,” means “roast.”

When do Argentines eat asado?

Although meat in Argentina is relatively expensive, Argentines regularly buy and eat meat.  Eating an asado for lunch or dinner is seen as a way to celebrate.  For birthdays, holidays and get-togethers, Argentines will often cook up an asado.  As a missionary I ate a lot of asado for lunch with members of the Church- often we would eat asado with bread and some sort of salad.

How is asado prepared?

Asado is prepared by either roasting the meat in the oven or by cooking it on a grill outside.  Sometimes the meat is marinated the day before to add flavor to the meat.  When an asado is prepared just right the meat is often juicy and tender.  I’ve had chicken that was so moist and tender the chicken fell off the bones.

What foods make up an asado?

The main foods that make up asados are: carne, pollo, chorizo, morsilla and cordero.

Carne (beef)

The beef that Argentine’s use in an asado varies.  It seems older Argentine’s are familiar with dozens of cow body parts and know how to deliciously prepare each.  If you go into a carniceria (Argentine meat shop), the meat cutter may recommend different parts of the cow to prepare in an asado.  Beef for an asado is generally cooked in thick, short slabs.

Pollo (chicken)

Chicken is best cooked slowly in an asado.  When a chicken is cooked at just the right temperature for just the right time, the meat becomes moist and tender and comes off the bone easily.  I’ve had the best chicken I’ve ever had while I lived in Argentina.

Chorizo (sausage)

Chorizo is a delicious sausage with meats and herbs inside of it.  Sometimes lard is added to the mix.  Chorizo is very tasty with Argentine bread.  Often chorizo is very juicy and fatty.  Though it tastes very good, it’s probably not very good for you.

Morsilla (blood sausage)

Morsilla is a sausage that is prepared with powdered cow blood, lard and any variety of spices, rice and vegetables.  One of the families we knew in Comodoro Rivadavia showed us how to make morsilla by mixing the blood, lard, rice, spices and cabbage in a big container and then stuffing intestine tubes, tying them off and boiling them for several hours.  Morsilla may be eaten cold or hot and may be smooth or chunky.  Though it can be a repulsive sight at first, morsilla can be quite delicious. Like chorizo, morsilla has a lot of fat.  Eating too much morsilla may not be good for the heart.

Cordero (lamb)

Eating lamb in Argentina is a special treat.  Usually families will eat lamb around the holidays.  Sometimes families will buy an entire lamb to eat over the Christmas holiday.  On my mission I learned that when a lamb is younger, it’s meat is more tender.  I think cordero is probably my favorite Argentine meat.  Cooked in an asado, lamb looks like a piece of beef attached to a bone, but tastes even better than beef.  I have fond memories of eating tender, juicy and delicious lamb.

Though these are the main meats that make up an asado, other meats may be included, such as rabbit, guanaco, intestines and pig.

Asado is definitely a meal to look forward to.  Anytime a family prepares an asado for you, you should give them generous thanks because of the great expense they had to make to make you asado.

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