Cooking Uruguayan Style: Learning to Love the Asado.

In Uruguay I thought I was going to get gout.  Okay maybe I am being overly slightly melodramatic, but a diet high in red meat and low in dairy is the perfect combination for gout to wrap its acidic little inflammation right around a joint (or two) and wreak havoc.  But, again, I’m being ridiculous…or maybe not.  Needless to say, due to the excessive amount of cattle in the Uruguayan countryside, we ate a ton of red meat during my stay.  We consumed everything from Chorizo (my favorite that I kept asking for repeatedly on end) to traditional asado.

So I failed miserably at taking photos of a traditional Uruguayan BBQ, but what I did get were pictures of the cooking we did at the beach (asado on the stove; cooking by candlelight) and the cooking we did in the countryside (over a makeshift fire pit with a tree trunk as our communal plate).

Asado is a type of meat – it is much tougher and fattier than you may expect (take a look at the uncooked asado meat at the top of this post).  The best way to describe it is to think of American-style ribs, they are cut vertically from the cow, so the meat is horizontal and you have a nice rectangular slab of ribs.  Asado is the same part of the cow, the ribs, but cut horizontally so the resulting meat looks like a long thin string of meat with knobs of bone.  The strip of meat is only a couple of inches wide and when cooked it is pretty tough.  Still delicious.

A grill known as "Una Parrilla"

A typical asado grill.

There is the meat ‘asado’ and then there is the act of an ‘Asado’ where an ‘asador’ cooks the meat on a grill in a large outdoor brick oven over the embers that have emerged from firewood.  Confused yet?  Notice the asado grill outside our house at the beach, Cabo Polonio.  The firewood is stacked neatly to one side where it slowly burns and as the wood turns to embers the pieces are swept under the elevated grilled to essentially “smoke” the meat until it is cooked to perfection.  It’s a very slow process that fits perfectly with the culture in Uruguay – everything takes time and nothing is rushed so you enjoy the meal complete with good company and, most likely, lots of wine.  Despite the absurd amount of meat I ate, I still loved every single bite I took and would gorge my heart out all over again.

So that wraps up my (first) trip to the Southern Hemisphere.  It was a fantastic introduction to South America and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my good friend in Uruguay!  So, thank you!  I advise your own trip soon and let me know if you go.

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~ by Hilary Walsh on January 25, 2013.

One Response to “Cooking Uruguayan Style: Learning to Love the Asado.”

  1. Not gonna happen, but I’m so glad you had a great time!!!!

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