How to Throw a Traditional Argentinian Asado, Brought to You By the New Ñuke Puma Grill
This post is brought to you by Ñuke BBQ, which provided advertising support.
For more than 300 years, Argentinian gauchos have been barbecuing their meals on the pampas (prairies), and those traditions have made their way into our modern day backyards and patios.
In Argentina today, every event from birthday parties to local festivals includes a real-fire barbecue. There are no gas or charcoal briquettes in sight at these get togethers, only natural charcoal or real wood burnt down to fiery coals to cook the very beef-forward dishes. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
We’ve worked with our friends at Ñuke to pull together what makes an asado so special so you can host your own. (Hint! It’s the time spent with family and friends that really makes it special…but the beef is key too.)
TRADITIONAL PARRILLA GRILLS FOR AUTHENTIC ASADOS
Every Argentinian household has a parrilla (grill) built-into their backyard or patio. Our friends at Ñuke have long been making hand-made parrillas in Argentina, and recently started distributing here in the US as the custom catches on stateside.
With larger cuts of meat needing to cook low-and-slow, a traditional asado grill needs a separate heavy-duty brazier-style fire starter basket where wood is burnt to hot embers before they are slid onto heat refractory bricks under the grill. If you want to make your asado as traditional as possible, managing the char-level is also key as Argentinians prefer less of a sear than we do here in the US. To accommodate this style Ñuke’s newest grill, the Ñuke Puma, features the traditional control wheel to raise and lower the grill grate allowing asadores (those are the Argentine grill masters) to cook from 4” to 23” from the coals. If you prefer a nice char on your beef, just crank that grate down right above the coals.
The Puma is a Santa Maria-style grill, also outfitted with V-shaped grill grates traditional in Argentinian real-fire cooking to channel fat away from the fire avoiding flare-ups, and allow you to collect drippings for basting. To really maximize the unique flavor the Argentinian style brings, these grill enhancements are key.
WHAT TO MAKE FOR YOUR ASADO
While the focus of the party is on togetherness and the joy of family and friends, to have a true asado requires the right beef. Argentinians consume more beef per person than any other nation, so it’s no surprise that their barbecues are heavily focused on the locally-sourced beef cuts.
At an asado, the grill master is the star of the show, and managing all the differing cuts comes off almost like a dance. Part of the rhythm that a good asador will practice is cooking the thin cuts like entrana (skirt steak) over the coals while they are blistering hot, then move onto some bife de chorizo (boneless strip steaks) and sausages that need the high heat sear, all while the guests nibble on the first pieces with plenty of wine. The asadores then crank the grates further from the coals to add the larger cuts like thick beef ribs that need to cook low-and-slow. The culmination of the asador’s work is traditionally rewarded with a toast of wine glasses and a round of applause.
Imagine managing the rhythm of each of those cuts efficiently on your current grill, and the art behind the Argentinian style found in the Ñuke Puma becomes readily apparent.
Check out these links for examples on Ñuke social media:
- Entrana (skirt steak)
- Thick-cut beef short ribs (low and slow)
- Provoleta (gooey pan griddled cheese)
THE KEY PANTRY ITEMS YOU NEED TO ROUND OUT THE ASADO IN STYLE
A key component for a successful asado is sal parrillera, or grilling salt. It is one online click away and a must-have if you want the true traditional taste of Argentinian asado. Its large flakes melt slowly as the beef cooks to do its work to season the meat, but also leaves a nice crunch of salinity when you serve all of your hungry guests.
Every aspect of asado cooking is intended to let the beef and its natural flavor be the star of the show, so marinades and rubs that cloud the beefy flavor are rarely used. Instead, asadores mix up a vibrant Argentine chimichurri that guests can drizzle on to their personal preference. The herbaceous notes vary widely, as every family has their own unique twist on the recipe. Try Steven’s chimichurri recipe here.
Hosting your own asado? Follow @nukebbqusa on Instagram for more ideas.
About the Ñuke Puma:
The Ñuke Puma is an Argentinian-style gaucho grill designed to bring a modern style and functionality to the centuries-long grilling traditions. Combining stainless and heavy-gauge steel, the Puma comes with a wheeled-cart, fire poker and shovel, as well as a cast iron griddle to overlay the brazier for flat-top cooking which is great for sliced vegetables. You can buy it here.
Check out these links you might like:
- Check out Ñuke’s YouTube Page to See the Grills in Action
- Learn More About How Ñuke Came to Be
- Steven’s Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Recipe