Argentine barbecue, or asado, is no ordinary barbecue – oh no! The asado is a celebration of the country’s iconic gaucho culture and its most prized product – beef. Such is Argentina’s reverence for beef that every part of the cow is honoured in an age-old ritual of fire and precision cooking. Every weekend households across Argentina gather together to share in this feast of fire-cooked meats, all washed down with plenty of Malbec or Fernet (an aromatic spirit) and Coca-Cola. The preparation and cooking of the asado is taken extremely seriously, and it's all down to the appointed ‘grand asador’ to deliver the much-anticipated meal. I spent a day with the asadors of the CAU kitchen to uncover the secrets to mastering Argentina’s legendary asado and – above all – achieving the ultimate barbecue.
First and foremost, when creating your authentic asado you need the right kind of fuel for your barbecue. Coal or wood are the best heat sources as they allow for a more controlled cooking temperature. Add wood chips to the coals for an extra smoky flavour when cooking your meat.
Most importantly, the Argentine asado is all about low and slow barbecuing – so don’t rush it! Start by lighting the coals on only one side, and allow the heat to gradually travel across the coals. This creates two levels of heat, thereby allowing you to cook at two different temperatures – thus avoiding unwanted charring and overcooking. So just sit back and relax with a glass of Malbec, as it is important that the coals are given plenty of time to reach their peak cooking temperature.