Words to Know

Cortes – Cuts

Vacuno – Cow / Beef

Parilla – cast-iron grate set over hot coals; also the name restaurants that cook Asado with a Parilla in the city

Chapa – flat piece of cast iron over a fire (or skillet/griddle)

Horno – oven or slow roast

Asador – cooking whole animals, butterflied, and attached with wires to an iron cross

Sarten – stovetop in a frying pan, shallow fry

Caldero – Dutch oven, stew

Gaucho – Argentine “cowboys”

Cortes de Vacuno

Beef takes the center stage when it comes to a Asado (Argentinian BBQs). Understanding a few staples of the Argentine past makes it easy to see why: large, fertile grasslands led to a gaucho driven lifestyle. Cows are great animals for herding across longer distances.

How to use: Below you will find the main regions of the cow broken down into the cuts of meat along with suggestions on how to cook and prepare. Given that Asado is a varied experience among people and locations, not all of these cuts are as popular as other, some not necessarily best for Asado. But because I didn’t want the food community to show up with pitchforks or start internet-based negging, I have tried to put together a robust, but unfortunately not exhaustive, list.

I used “Similar to” to cover my ass as many cuts here aren’t available in the US or will be approached differently by butcher; opposed to common convention born from supermarket chains, butchery is an art—I know it is hard to believe given what you most frequently see. In Argentina, butchers take great pride in their craft and meat; in the US, they just want to sell you the ones that are closest to expiration.

It is important to remember that the word Asado itself means different things to different people. In the city, Asado is usually associated with going to a Parilla and eating steak-like cuts, outside of the city (and on Sundays everywhere) Asado is a bit more grand with a feast of cuts.

Also, I apologize, I sometimes get sexual when talking about meat.

This – Indicates a recommendation by me, but I also took into considerations other people’s feelings because I play nicely.

Salt Guidelines

Marinade: 2-24 hours before the cooking

Before: 1 hour before cooking

Right Before: right before cooking

During: during the cooking process, roughly halfway through

At End: right before removing

After:  before or as plating

Main Sections

Bife Ancho:

Bife ancho is one of the most popular options neatly fitting into the “steak” category—cook and sear, and you should find happiness. Commonly ordered at a Parilla.

Similar To – Rib Eye

Technique – Parilla, Chapa

Salting – Right Before, During

* Ojo de Bife Ancho:

Similar To – Rib Eye

Technique – Parilla, Chapa

Salting – Right Before, During

* Entrecot:

Similar To – T-bone or porterhouse steaks

Technique – Parilla, Chapa

Salting –  Right Before, During

* Tapa de Bife:

Similar To – Rib-Eye Cap

Technique – Parilla, Chapa

Salting – Right Before, During

Lomo:

Lomo is one of the most expensive and prized cuts (although not for me), known for its tender and juiciness; however, with great tenderness comes great loss of flavor.

Similar To – Tenderloin

Technique – Parilla, Chapa

Salting – At end, After

Bife Angosto o Chorizo:

In most cases, Angosto and Chorizo are synonymous but if we want to try to be specific, Angosto will most likely be a Porterhouse or Strip and a Chorizo will be more of a Sirloin Rump. This is a steak, please treat it with some respect. This is another cut that you will typically see at a Parilla.

Similar To – NY Strip, Striploin

Technique – Parilla, Chapa

Salting –  Right Before, During

* Bife de Costilla:

Similar To – T-bone or porterhouse steaks

Technique – Parilla, Chapa

Salting –  Right Before, During

* Bife con Lomo:

Similar To – T-bone or porterhouse steaks

Technique – Parilla, Chapa

Salting –  Right Before, During

Cuadril:

Uses vary when we get to this section. Most people will roast the section here, but some cuts like the Colita can make for a great grill when handled properly. Tapa de Cuadril is known as Picanha in Brazil, and is one of the most prized cuts. Peceto is another popular cut with locals that doesn’t often get to shine.

Similar To – Rump

Technique – Chapa, Caldero

Salting –  Right Before

* Tapa de Cuadril:

Similar To – Picanha, Rump Cover

Technique – Chapa, Horno

Salting – Right Before, During

* Peceto:

Similar To – Eye of Round

Technique – Horno

Salting – Right Before

* Colita de Cuadril:

Similar To – Tri-Tip or Sirloin

Technique – Parilla, Horno

Salting – Right Before, During

Nalga:

Nalga is a fairly tough area in the hind section. Nalga isn’t a frequently seen option at restaurants; due to it’s toughness, you have to make sure to go slow and steady, don’t rush, it won’t feel as good. Cut really thin, this cut is often used for Milanesas.

* Tapa de Nalga:

Similar To – Top or Cap of Round Roast

Technique – Parilla, Sarten

Salting – Right Before, During

* Bola de Lomo:

Similar To – Sirloin Tip

Technique – Sarten

Salting – Right Before, During

Asado (Costillar):

Yes, I’m sorry if this is a bit confusing. Asado is both a section, cut of meat, and the name of the Argentinian grill. Asado is the ribs section of the cow and many believe that you can’t have an Asado without Asado (*proceeds to roll eyes*). One of the most common in an outside Asado, especially with the whole rack tied to a cross and grilled slowly.

Similar To – Ribs, Rib Cage, Short and Spare Ribs

Technique – Parilla, Asador

Salting – Marinade, Before

* Tapa de Asado

Similar To – Rib Cap

Technique – Parilla

Salting – Right Before

* Tira de Asado

Similar To – Short ribs, chuck ribs cross-cut

Technique – Parilla

Salting – Right Before

Vacio:

Vacio is a cut not seen much outside of Argentina and Brazil. It is known for the thick layer of fat on the top, that gets crispy as the cut us cooked, along with the juicy underside. Vacio will often include more muscle groups than the simpler Flank. Also commonly see at outdoor Asados.

Similar To – Flank

Technique – Parilla, Chapa, Horno, Caldero

Salting – Before

Matambre:

Another not familiar cut, matambre is a thick cut across the belly of the cow. Like the Vacio, it will be a bit more complicated than just a Flank. Also also, commonly seen at outdoor Asados.

Similar To – Flank

Technique – Parilla, Chapa, Horno, Caldero

Salting – Before, Right Before

Falda:

Falda will most likely be a thin cut from the underside. There is actually mixed consensus on what this cut would translate to in the US.

Similar To – Flank, Skirt, Navel

Technique – Parilla, Plancha, Horno

Salting – Right Before

Entraña:

Known as a fairly cheap cut, Entrana is known to be juicy and flavorful but rather tough and chewy. The surrounding muscle can be trimmed to decrease the toughness. Entrana will come in two forms: the Centro which is a larger and juicier piece and the Fina which is most similar to Skirt.

* Centro de Entraña

Similar To – Skirt

Technique – Parilla, Chapa

Salting – Before, Right Before

* Entraña Fina

Similar To – Skirt

Technique – Parilla, Chapa

Salting – Before (if membrane is left on), Right Before, During

Garron:

Garron comes from the shank of the cow. Not commonly used in Asados, but is one of my favorite pieces due to that delicious bone marrow. I wish I saw this more in Argentina, but I plan on using it in some of my originals.

Similar To – Osso Buko

Technique – Horno, Caldero

Salting – Right Before

Paleta:

Not very common at Asados.

Similar To – Pot Roast

Technique – Horno, Caldero

Salting – Right Before

Cogote:

A tough piece of meat, but has a lot of flavor. Usually used for stews or ground. Also not very common at Asados.

Similar To – Neck

Technique – Horno, Caldero

Salting – Right Before

Espinazo:

Fairly similar to Cogate, in fact most places don’t bother the differentiate and this cut will often be looped into other cuts.

Similar To – Neck or Roast Beef

Technique – Horno, Caldero

Salting – Right Before

Roast Beef:

No explanation really needed.

Similar To – Roast Beef

Technique – Horno, Caldero

Salting – Right Before

Others: Carnaza (Stew Beef), Lengua (Tongue), Pecho (Brisket), & Cabeza (Head)

Asado Cuts-01