A Guide to Argentina Meat Cuts & How to Order Steak
IIf you are a foodie, the first thing you think when you think about Argentina is an Argentine asado (a barbeque)! Argentina is famous for its world famous asado and with much reason: it is amazing!
Argentina is not only about asados, though. The South American country offers amazing highways to travel on, mind-blowing places such as La Patagonia, Ushuaia (a.k.a. the end of the world), the Iguazu Falls, Salinas Grandes, an astonishing train to the clouds, and the hot springs in Entre Ríos.
It is hard to pick the best thing about Argentina among all those amazing things that the country has to offer, but in this post, we are going to uncover the mysteries of the Argentine asado, and try to learn how to make Argentina asado.
If you are ready to start learning all about Argentina asado get comfortable, start scrolling down and join me in this post.
PRO TIP: Argentines have a very peculiar Spanish. They use el voseo and they tend to drag the “y” and “ll” sounds making it sound like an “sh.” When they say llover (to rain) it sounds much more like “shover.”
Names of Meat Cuts in Spanish and How To Make an Argentina Asado
First, it is highly important to get to know the names and the parts of the animals that you are going to be eating. An asado is a free way to cook on a grill, you can put anything you want over that coal and let it grill deliciously.
These are the names of some traditional edible animals in Spanish.
|beef||la carne de res, la carne de ternera|
|lamb||la carne de cordero|
|pork||la carne de cerdo|
In an Argentina asado, however, they tend to stick with beef and pork only. They usually use the following:
1. La tira de asado, asado de tira or churrasco
La tira de asado literally means “the strip of the grill.” This is the most traditional Argentine meat cut that there is. This one comes from la costilla de res (beef’s ribs) and it is absolutely mouth-watering.
In order to prepare el churrasco you are going to need to make cross cuts to the ribs and form strips with five or six bones within them. Cook them with the bones inside and facing the coal. Once it’s done just turn it around and make the other part face the grill for a little bit.
2. El bife de chorizo
El bife de chorizo literally means “the chorizo beef.” It does not make complete sense, because the traditional chorizo is a sausage made with pork, garlic and bell pepper. Nevertheless, el bife de chorizo is beef!
El bife de chorizo comes from el lomo alto (the beef’s sirloin) and it is a very juicy and delicious meat cut, but with low amounts of fat. When grilling it, make sure that it does not get overcooked because it can really ruin a delicious cut.
FUN FACT: The word bife in Spanish comes from the word “beef.” The word bistec comes from “beef steak.”
3. La entraña
La entraña literally means “the entrail” and it is the skirt cut. Meat connoisseurs say this meat cut is simply delicious!
This Argentine meat cut comes with a little fiber strip that you can either take off or leave in and cook it until making it crunchy.
4. El vacío
El vacío literally means “the vacuum” and it is a part of the Argentina asado that comes from a part of the flank, between the rib cage and the hip. This Argentine meat cut is not as tender as its counterparts, but it is delicious as well. It is great to kickstart your Argentine asado and you can cut it in fine slices to enjoy it better.
5. La tapa de cuadril
La tapa de cuadril or as Spaniards call it tapilla is a triangular Argentine meat cut, and it is highly tender. It has a layer of fat on it and this helps it to stay juicy once you throw it on the grill. For this one, you should grill the whole piece of meat and slice it afterward.
6. El matambre
El matambre is an Argentine meat cut that comes from the beef’s abdominal muscles. It is a piece of meat that you can roll up and give it a stuffing. You can also simply grill it or add some barbeque to it.
7. Los chorizos criollos
Los chorizos criollos literally means the creole chorizos. These are the big fat sausages that many Latin Americans inherited from the Spanish culture. No true Argentine asado would be complete without los chorizos. These are another stupendous way to kickstart your Argentine asado and eat as you grill.
PRO TIP: In a Guatemalan churrasco, we love to eat tortillas with guacamole and chorizo as we grill.
8. The poultry
No Argentine asado is complete without the chicken on it. While this is not as strong or spectacular as all the other Argentine meat cuts we saw before, this adds a spice of variety to the Argentine asado, especially for those who do not enjoy steak or find it too heavy, poultry adds up a delicious alternative.
Side Dishes to Include in Your Argentine Asado
If all of this Argentine meat was not enough for you, you should try to include a few side dishes that go perfectly with the meat. In Argentine asados you can find several side dishes and sauces to give a little extra to that delicious steak.
As an appetizer, you can start your Argentine asado by eating some Argentine empanadas.
You can try:
- chicken empanada – empanada de pollo
- meat empanada – empanada de carne
- ham and cheese empanada – empanada de jamón y queso
Ham and Cheese
Sometimes, in Argentine asados, you can have other appetizers. A board with different and delicious types of cheese, including the best of them all, mozzarella cheese. You can have salami and some other different types of hams, as well as olives.
In an Argentine asado, the vegetables are not the strongest of everything, but vegetarians are welcome to be a part of the Argentine asado as well. Argentines prepare an ensalada (salad) as a side dish of the meat, with simple lechuga (lettuce), tomate (tomato), and cebolla (onion). You can add some aceite de oliva (olive oil) or some vinagre balsámico (balsamic vinegar) to it.
Another popular side dish is potato salad. Instead of making french fries, in an Argentine asado they like to prepare una ensalada de papas (a potato salad), which is really simple. Potatoes, onion, and mayonnaise all together will do the trick.
The Italian inheritance is strong in this one. Argentine asados can sometimes have a provoleta. This is a piece of provolone cheese cooked on the grill.
History of Argentina Asado
The History of the Argentina asado goes even further than the time when gauchos—Argentine cowboys, went after cows, roaming free in la pampa Argentina (the Argentine grasslands) to cook them and eat.
While the first Spanish colonizer of Argentina was Juan Díaz de Solís in 1516, the Guaraní killed him off. It wasn’t until around 1680, when a Portuguese colony in what today is Uruguay, made commerce in the region bloom. Cows and horses started populating la pampa Argentina and the few criollos (creole) who were there started their way of life as gauchos.
Gauchos were underprivileged men with very few resources. They were clever people and even though they didn’t have too much money they did live in fields with a lot of cows roaming around, meaning they had access to a lot of food.
They started to take advantage of every single part of the cows and bulls they could eat, and they started cooking them a la cruz (cross-style cooking)—a technique which consists of putting the meat of the animal in a cross-shape and let the fire beneath cook it very slowly, so it can stay tender and juicy.
They started taking these cows into herds and selling them in the big cities. It was the mixture of life in la pampa argentina, the commerce in the region, and the Spanish influence that made up the stew from which the Argentina asado was born. While gauchos selling herds of cows made the Argentina asado as wildly popular as it is today.
El Asado in Argentine Culture
As you can see the Argentina asado has quite a history. Thanks to that it became a huge part of Argentine culture as well.
As I mentioned before, Argentine culture can be (but should not be, because it is much deeper than this) summarized in passion for soccer and passion for Argentine asados.
Argentine culture is one of the most interesting ones in Latin America. This is because in the 1860s a massive Italian immigration started in Argentina. At the time, there were around 71,500 Italians living there. In the 1870s and up until the 1970s Italians migrated to Argentina, especially those coming from Genova who are nicknamed xeneizes. Spaniards, especially Galicians also moved to Argentina at the end of the 19th century.
In Italy and Spain, the culture is pointed towards family and friends. Argentines inherited this in their culture and that’s why the Argentine asado is all about that. Argentines take the weekends to cook an Argentine asado and reunite with their family and friends to watch a soccer match and prepare an Argentine asado in their garden.
How to Order Steak in Argentina
In order to order steak in Argentina, or any other Spanish-speaking country, you can use several different verbs: querer (to want), dar (to give), dejar (to leave), gustar (to like), traer (to bring) for example. Look at these examples:
Quisiera un bife de chorizo, por favor.
I would like a bife de chorizo, please.
Danos un vacío, por favor.
Give us a “vacío”, please.
Me gustaría un kilo de chorizo por favor.
I would like a kilo of chorizo, please.
Traenos una ración de matambre, por favor.
Bring us a ration of matambre, please.
Terms of the Meat in Spanish
There are (at least) six ways to order a piece of meat in Spanish. In the following chart, you can see the order from least-cooked to most-cooked.
|blue rare||sellado, azul|
|medium rare||medio crudo(a)|
|medium well||tres cuartos|
|well done||bien cocido(a)|
Quisiera mi carne sellada, por favor.
I would like my meat blue rare, please.
La entraña dámela tres cuartos.
Give me the entraña medium well, please.
El chorizo que venga bien cocido, por favor.
Bring the chorizo well done, please.
El matambre lo quiero rojo inglés, por favor.
I want the matambre rare, please.
PRO TIP: Steak connoisseurs say that the best term to take the steak is the medium term.
Top Restaurants To Enjoy an Argentine Asado in Argentina
If firing up that grill is not your thing, do not worry. Argentina has several restaurants that can cook a genuine Argentine asado for you.
- Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
La colorada is a famous restaurant in Buenos Aires. Porteños—Buenos Aires’s locals, like to go to this restaurant because of its asados. One of its most popular dishes is El Macho Argentino which has 1.7 lbs (0.8 kg) of T-Bone, with fried egg, French fries, mashed pumpkin, salad, provolone cheese, chimichurri, and creole sauce. A true delight!
La colorada opens every day from 12:00 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Hierro Parrilla is another Argentine Asado restaurant. It is the first on trip advisor and its clients are delighted with the food, the service, and the ratio between quality and price. It is a marvelous restaurant to give it a try. If you’re up for it, you can visit it every day from noon to 7:30 p.m., except on Tuesdays, when they close at 7:00 p.m.
- Location: Resistencia, Chaco, Argentina
El Parrillero is a restaurant in Northern Argentina, in the Resistencia province. It opens from noon to 2:30 p.m. and then again from 8:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. and according to their customers, they offer a good quality of Argentine meat.
- Location: Salta, Argentina
El Charrúa is the best restaurant in Salta, a city in Northern Argentina. Some of its customers describe it as a family place, without a lot of ventilation and great Argentine meat, including some menus that have an entrée, a main dish, and dessert, for 5 USD (500 Argentine pesos.) El Charrúa opens every day from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and then again from 7:30 p.m. to midnight.
El Rancho de Pelufo
- Location: San Juan, Argentina
El Rancho de Pelufo is an amazing Argentine meat restaurant in the province of San Juan, in Argentina. Besides having great Argentine meat, it offers a unique Argentine experience. Its customers say that the folklore in the restaurant is amazing and that visitors have got to visit the place.
Learn Spanish To Cook Your Asado Like a True Argentine!
Nobody makes an asado quite like the Argentine people, and nobody speaks Spanish like them either. You don’t really need Spanish to fire up the grill in your backyard, but it can sure help. Think about it, don’t you have a Latin American neighbor, friend, or acquaintance? If you do it is pretty normal, that is because out of the 53,000,000 Spanish speakers in the U.S. 41 million are native speakers. Latinos can fire up your barbecue party and make it even more enjoyable.
If, on the other hand, you are planning to take a trip to Argentina to learn all about asados by yourself, learning Spanish is going to help you talk to Argentines, but also, to buy your plane ticket to “the Silver land”, because by speaking Spanish you can earn extra money. Sign up for a free Spanish class today and start planning that trip to Argentina!
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