This leg of my journey has come to an end and if you are looking to learn more about Asado, the Argentine culture, or my journey please take a look at Asado: A Journey Through Argentine Cuisine. This book is the culmination of all my experiences, writings, recipes, learnings while exploring Argentina and I am both very excited and proud to share it with our readers.
Inspired by Francis Mallmann’s feast in Seven Fires, I designed my own Asado Sunday Feast. Except I invited everyone that I had met in Argentina, that had helped me as I studied Asado, and random people on Reddit, who, considering the nature of the Reddit community, turned out to be really helpful and interestingly full of Telenovela-style drama and turf battles.
“There are 40 million ways to do an Asado” – Argentinian saying, relayed by Leonardo to me.
This phrase helps highlights the experience of my first Asado: overwhelming. Asado is a cultural institution not just a meal or technique. And with anything that becomes a cultural institution, there is lot’s of room for interpretation—from creating and stoking the fire and the doneness of meats to the level of acceptable drunkenness. Everyone has their own way to do it, and on this journey I’m doing my best to experience and capture it all.
Shopping List & Menu
Below is more or less a fairly exhaustive list and schedule that I hope comes in handy for your next Asado, estimated for around 20 people.
The day before the Asado, I went to the carnicero to start buying the meats. I was so giddy that I went over-board in the planning and wanted to get every amazing cut of meat. This was a bad idea; if you are a novice or doing this for the first time, I recommend simplifying. I also created this menu estimating 20 people and asking some people to help out. Plans that didn’t execute have been noted below:
Cuts of Meats (Cortes de Carnes)
As a rule of thumb, it is suggested to estimated around 1/2 kilos of meat per person. 1/2 kilos is a lot of meat, but excessive meet is part of the experience.
Chorizo – 2 kilos
Tira De Asado – 2 kilos
Entrana (wasn’t able to find and bought more of the other cuts) – 2 kilos
Vacio – 2 kilos
Tapa de Asado – 2 kilos
Colita de Cuadril – 1 kilos
Morcilla (person that was supposed to bring didn’t show up) – 1 kilos
Mollejas – 1 kilos
Chichulines – 1 kilo
Pollo Entreno – 1 whole
Bondiola – 1 kilo
Bell Peppers (Morrones; cooked on the grill) – 12
Potatoes (Papas; cooked in the coals) – 12
Corn (Choclo; cooked in the coals) – 4
Carrots (Zanahoria; cooked in the coals) – 12
Tomatoes (Tomates) – 12
Garlic (Ajo; cooked in the coals) – 2 cloves
Onions (Cebolla; cooked in the coals)- 12
Coke (Coka) – 4 bottles
Fernet – 1-2 bottles
Wine – 6+ bottles
Water (Agua) – 3 bottles
Salsa Criolla – A bunch
Chimichurri – A bunch
Other assortment of sauces and spices as desired
Bread (Panchitos/Baguette-esque) – A bunch
Huevos (cooked inside morrones) – 1 dozen
Carbon – 4-5 bags
Plates, Napkins, Glasses, and Silverware
Wooden cutting boards – 2-3
Knife – 2
Metal Fork – 2
Fire Starters like newspaper and a wooden crate
Shovel – 1
Foil – A bunch
Plastic Bags – A bunch
Some way of identifying yourself if inviting people you don’t know
“It’s a testosterone parade.” – Me
At the periphery, Asado is a masculine sport where Argentine males will gather to strut their skills and show off their meets, sort of like a mating ritual, except with other guys. At the core, Asado is an experience.
I was alone when I first got to the parque and started setting up. There were groups all over the place, Asados big and small, families and friends. Fortune was on my side this day as next to me was Miguel and his family. From the very beginning, after I explained that this was my first Asado, Miguel and his family took me under their wing: from starting the fire, stoking the coals, and judging the meats. Without their help, we would have certainly been lost and underperforming. Miguel shared his experiences in the marines and was warm and welcoming the Argentine way. Our Asado blended with the Asados around us.
But, Miguel being an expert Asador also exemplified this testosterone parade by constantly showing off to us how amazing his cuts of meet were by feeding us on a regular basis. It’s such a conflicting feeling, but were were able to see past that fog of testosterone, to the heart of the Asado: an experience—an experience to share with family and friends to come together, eat delicious food, and have a great time.
Day Before – Start shopping and preparing
10:00 – Aim to reach the Parque and get a spot
11:00 – Actually reach the Parque but manage to still find a great spot and sprawl your things to reserve tables
12:00 – Start building up the fire
12:01 – Break open the wine, continue drinking for the rest of the day
12:02 – Realize all the things you are missing and send someone out to for another round of shopping
12:30 – Working the fire
1:30 – Start salting meats and adding to the grill
2:00 – First round of taste checks
2:30 – Start of with some Choripans and First Round of meats
3:00 – Tummy is already getting full and throw rest of the meats onto the grill
3: 30 – Round 2, start swearing you won’t eat meat again as you are shoving Tire de Asado down your throat
4:00 – Drinking, dancing, chilling
5:00 – Some of the guests finally arrive despite food being ready at 2. Some of the cuts are a bit overdone but you still proceed for Round 3
6:00 – Cleaning up and splitting up leftovers