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The real way to barbecue

May 9, 2011 · 4 comments

In Australia, we take barbecues pretty seriously. It might look like the simple act of grilling meat, but not being able to work a barbie is like not being able to tell your Nick Riewoldt from your Nick Farr-Jones, or not playing two-up on Anzac Day: unAustralian.

Things on the Aussie barbie front might have progressed lately from the old sausage in bread to fancy schmancy products like haloumi, but the central tenant is the same: we know how to barbecue.

At least, I used to think so. Then I went to Argentina.

Now, these guys know their way around fire and meat. Think you’re going to get away with a gas barbie in Argentina? No chance. It’s hot coals all the way, not even flames will do the trick.

It’s one thing to get a good steak at a restaurant, but you can almost guarantee that every backyard in Argentina is serving up better meat than you’ll find in Oz.

Nick works the asado like a pro

I had my first proper backyard asado at my mate Nick’s house in Mendoza. Nick’s garden houses the same pyramid-shaped brick apparatus you’ll find at every self-respecting Argentinean’s place: the asado.

It’s big, it’s ugly, and it’s not the kind of thing you’ll be able to lug down to the park to grill some souvlaki on on a weekend. It does, however, do amazing things to meat.

First things first: start the fire. This is done with newspaper, kindling, and some wood bought from the local servo. While Nick plays the waiting game as it burns down to hot coals, he grabs the meat – giant slabs of beef bought from the butcher around the corner – and douses them in special “parilla” salt.

With the coals ready to go, he scrapes a few of them under the grill, then slaps on the steaks. It’s a long process – the steaks slow-cook for 20 minutes or so – but the results…

Nick slices the meat on a wooden board sprinkled with chopped herbs and red wine, then dishes little bits out to everyone in the backyard as they hit perfect eating temperature. They’re salty, smoky, herbacious and meaty. In other words: freaken awesome.

Give up Aussies, we’ve got nothing. The Argies are the Barbecue Kings.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bendos71 May 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Totally agree with you, Ben.

Those Porteños (and Porteñas) really know how to handle a nice piece of meat.

And if I know my Argentines, they’re still quite partial to a nice pair of leather trousers.

Am I right?

Veronica Reay May 10, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I would like to comment on the artical is it worth holidying at home,It is very expensive to travel around Australia,Petrol,Food,etc. But what I would like to comment on more is the price paid for in Thailand by your travelers I have been to Thailand many times and I have never paid that much for accommadation in Thailand and I have stayed in some really nice places all around thailand so if that is what your travelers paid they were taken for a ride but there travel agent in Australia book on the web it is so much cheaper.

bengroundwater May 12, 2011 at 12:11 am

You are correct!

bengroundwater May 12, 2011 at 12:12 am

Maybe they just stayed in a fancy place?

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