The following was written by Nancy Loseke, Steven’s assistant, who always tries to ferret out the best examples of barbecue wherever she goes in the world.
On the outskirts of Santiago, Chile, partway up the side of a minor Andean mountain, is a restaurant the locals prefer to keep to themselves. It is called El Meson de la Patagonia–”Lamb Shack” for short. Even the feral felines that congregate on the periphery of the property give my party the collective “evil eye” as we claim the only outside table left, a glorified picnic table parallel to the rectangular fire pit where six whole lambs are roasting on vertical spits. We order appetizers and Pisco Sours (recipe follows), the insidious libation of choice in Chile, and along with the cats, await our portion.
In the interim, I had time to study the vertical spits used for traditional Patagonian barbecues, or “asado.” They are fundamentally simple devices, but devastatingly efficient when barbecuing whole lambs, pigs, goats, etc. Usually made of cast iron or stainless steel, they feature a center pole with two adjustable crossbars outfitted with brawny-looking hooks. The center pole not only rotates 360 degrees, but can be angled toward or away from the coals thanks to a ratcheted base. Gratification with this contraption, I concluded, might not be immediate: It looked like something that demanded a bit of trial and error