Skip to content

The Perfect ASADO – The Art of Latin American Barbecue

Who doesn’t like the sound of flavourful grilled meat that’s gently simmering in its own fat, with a bowl of fresh salad and a cold beer by the side? Especially during Australia’s sunny Christmas, when the barbeque is one of the best ways to ring in the holiday season.

Of all grilling/barbeque methods available, the legendary Argentinian barbecue technique offers one of the most unforgettable experiences. No dish can better show-off the ingenuity of the Parrilla, than the Asado.

Your guide to making the perfect Asado

If you thought Asado was your run-of-the-mill barbeque, think again. This beautiful and ancient cooking method allows you to get back to your roots. You can channel the raw power of fire to coax out the most delectable flavors from absolutely every meat.

So, if you want to make an Asado at home, here’s what you need to do:

  • Buy yourself a premium-quality and finely-crafted Parrilla. This is a specialized iron grill grate that can be placed over an open fire, that adjusts in height, in order to cook and tenderize meats. You can easily purchase a Gaucho Grill (also called a Santa Maria Grill) from us at Smokin’ Gaucho Parrilla.
    A picture containing outdoor, fresh

Description automatically generated
  • Get firewood or charcoal; and place them under the left-side of your new Parrilla grill. You can throw in some kindling. Then light the fire and stand back as your gaucho grill heats.
A picture containing person, cooking, grill, meal

Description automatically generated
  • Use a shovel to pile a fresh batch of charcoal onto the kindling. Then slowly rake the embers at the bottom of the pile to the right side of the Parrilla. Lower the height of the grill to 15cms above the fire. 
A picture containing kitchen appliance, grill, oven, barbecue

Description automatically generated
  • While your grill is heating, keep the cuts of meat ready. Usually, this is a mixture of beef, chicken, pork, chorizo, morcilla and offal. Account for 500g of meat for every guest. The secret is salt, lots of good salt such as ‘Olsson’s Salt’ 
Asado meat parrilla gaucho grill salt
  • You want to slow-cook the meats and prevent any fat from dripping into the grate and creating smoke/fumes. This ensures your meats don’t burn. So, keep the hottest coals aside and cook only on the embers. You’ll know your meat is ready if it’s crisp on the outside, but cuts like butter.
Smokin gauchos asado parrilla
  • You can take the meat off-the-grill and serve it to your guests.
The Perfect Asado Meat Platter

Where does Brazilian Barbeque stand against Asado?

While Argentina (and Uruguay & Chile) specialize in the asado, Brazil specializes in her very own creation called the Churrasco.

The primary difference between these two barbequing styles is that for Churrasco, chefs stick to beef, fish and poultry only (no offal & pork). The second is the cooking method. Asado is cooked at a 45º on top a controlled fire and slowly grilled. For Churrasco, chefs coat the meat in lots of rock salt, skewer the meat onto rods and place them on the barbeque to cook at high heat.

Comparatively, Churrasco is much easier to make than asado. If you’re looking to have a laid-back Latin American barbeque for Christmas or New Year, then Churrasco is the way to go. For more of a challenge, choose asado.

No meat is ever complete without chimichurri and pebre

Irrespective of the type of barbequing you choose; your meal won’t be complete without the classic sides of chimichurri and pebre.

Chimichurri is very common in all Latin American countries and is made lots of olive oil, into which is mixed finely chopped parsley, garlic & red chili/flakes. Red wine, vinegar, cloves, oregano, salt and pepper are sprinkled in to give it more flavour. Then the chimichurri is eaten with the meats as a condiment.

If you’re in Chile, you’ll come across another condiment called pebre – which is an alternative to chimichurri. Finely chopped tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic and chilies are mixed into olive oil. This is then seasoned using red wine, vinegar and garlic salt.

Many Latin American feasts also include fries, pickles, pasta salads, loaves of bread and olives to munch on as well. These condiments take hardly 5 minutes to make and you can do them while you’re finishing cooking your asado or Brazilian barbeque on your brand new Smokin’ Gaucho Parrilla.