In Argentina the best known and key ingredient to our meals is cow meat or red meat. It’s also well known that Argentine meat tastes and looks different then in the rest of the world since cows here are grass fed and allowed to graze the land for at least 4 – 5 years.
History goes that in 1556 the brothers Goes brought down a bull and seven cows from the southern tip of what is now Brazil and left these animals alone to run free in the Pampa (this word actually means roam free with no disturbance) and then these began to reproduce extraordinarily. These cows were not owned by anyone and any citizen passing by, which in all fairness weren’t many, could grab as many as they wanted as long as they kept it under a 12,000 cow per person quota.
It’s calculated that by the 18th century there were an estimated 40 million cattle roaming the fields.
By then the Argentine Gaucho (a nomadic Pampa resident) would carry around a sharp native knife (facon) to cut up and roast a cow. Creating, without their knowledge, the legendary Argentine Asado (social technique for cooking cow meat in a Parilla or Barbecue).
And yes, the Asado is a very social gathering for Argentines! An average person in Argentina eats 2 asados a month!!! Groups of family and friends are usually called to gather on Saturday or Sunday night to eat an asado at someones home. Also, there are restaurants all over the city of Buenos Aires and the rest of the provinces in Argentina that offer this legendary meal.
The meat is not marinated, just salted with Sal Parrillera (a special salt for asados, very much like sea salt) and it is slow cooked for around two hours, using burning hot coals below the meat and different distances throughout the process.
A typical asado consists of the parts Asado de Tira, Vacio, Chinchulines, Mollejas, Chorizo and Morcilla and they are accompanied by a couple different sauces…one of them called Salsa Criolla which is a sauce of onion, tomato and vinegar and another called Chimichurri which is chopped parsley, oregano, salt, garlic, pepper, paprika and onion with olive oil (we gave you other recipes in our blog as well).
In Argentina the traditional asado is often made with Achuras (offal or entrails) like the above mentioned chinchulines and tripa gorda (chitterlings), mollejas (sweetbreads), morcilla (blood sausage) and chorizo (large barbecue sausage).
Everyone has their favorite. Most of our friends love vacio since it is a vender tender and juicy type of red meat, while others prefer asado de tira which is the prime rib of the cow. Either type cut is very unlikely anywhere else in the world and make the asado a different meat eating experience.
The equivalent or translation for most of the Argentine cuts are difficult but there are some similarities….for example:
The typical meat cuts in Argentina are:
- Marucha o Paleta
- Bife de costilla
While the typical USA American cuts are:
K Hind shank
The international cuts in both English and Spanish are:
- Aguja: Chuck, Chuck roast
- Asado: Short ribs, Roast prime ribs
- Bifes de chorizos: Rump steak
- Bifes de costilla: T-bone steaks
- Bola de lomo: Shin of beef
- Carnaza: Stewing beef
- Cogote: Neck
- Colita de cuadril: Tail of rump
- Cuadrada: Bottom round, Stewing beef
- Cuadril: Rump roast, Rump steaks
- Entraña: Thin skirt
- Falda: Skirt steak
- Falda con hueso: Skirt steak with bone
- Lomo: Tenderloin
- Matambre: Flank steak
- Nalga: Standing rump
- Ossobuco: Shin
- Paleta: Blade steak
- Palomita: Butterfly cut
- Peceto: Round steaks, Roast eye of round
- Tortuguita: Flat
- Vacío: Flank steak
So there you have it. Really a must in Argentine (and latin american) cuisine.