There are a few things Argentina does better than anywhere else in the world: sensual tango, full-bodied Malbecs and juicy grilled steak. Carnivorous visitors to Argentina can not miss out on a classic asado, a meal featuring heaping portions of assorted grilled meats. Asado's often take place in the backyard, but you can also order one up at special restaurants called a parrilla.
Not sure what to order? Here is your guide to the prime cuts of meat and sides that make up a perfect asado. Come hungry and prepare to leave very, very full.
The name of this extremely popular cut of steak is misleading - it doesn't actually involve chorizo sausage at all. Bife de chorizo is in fact a thick juicy sirloin steak; the kind that is so mammoth you can split it between two people. You will often see the option for bife de chorizo con roquefort, which is the same massive steak, topped with melted blue cheese.
In Argentina meat is often cooked between medium and well done, so if you like your meat rarer, be sure to let the waiter know. Luckily, even well done beef in Argentina manages to be tender and juicy.
Another steak option but different from the Chorizo this is a thinly cut, juicy tenderloin. Lomo is usually more expensive than bife de chorizo, and a bit leaner. Some claim the lack of marbling makes it less flavorful, so don't make it your exclusive cut of choice.
The popular cut of flank steak is particular to Argentina. It's carved so that a thin layer of fat lines the outside. When cooked just right, the fat becomes crisp while the inside stays super juicy. Probably not the best choice for your cholesterol levels, but Vacio is extremely tasty and an asado standard.
Sometimes referred to, confusingly, as just asado, this cut of short ribs is at the heart of most Argentinean barbeques. Its popularity comes from both its taste and how affordable it is. The short ribs are cooked in a rack, usually with a thick layer of fat still attached which makes them extremely flavorful.
Entraa is skirt steak; nothing glamorous but cheap and tasty, and a bit leaner than most of the above options. It's usually served communally, sliced into finger size pieces. Skirt steak is usually not as tender and can be fairly chewy.
It's not steak, but thick juicy pork sausages are a can't miss part of the asado experience. Unlike Mexican chorizo, these are never spicy (nothing is spicy in Argentina), but they are usually bursting with flavor.
You will also find black pudding (sausage made with pig or cow blood), known as morcilla, which is very dark in color and extremely rich. Sweetbreads and other assorted animal offal are commonplace as well.
Salami, cheese and olives comprises the standard Argentine appetizer platter and is served either alone with bread and butter.
One tasty appetizer that is only served alongside grilled meat is grilled provoleta, quite literally seasoned and grilled provolone cheese. It doesn't fully melt but becomes thick, gooey and extremely luxurious.
No Argentine steak is complete without a generous helping of chimichurri sauce. Made with olive oil, parsley, garlic and oregano, this thin sauce is the perfect fresh accompaniment for the mountain of meat you are about to consume. It's also about the only seasoning you'll find on the table apart from salt and pepper.
Argentineans are serious about their steak, and very few side dishes are usually served. A simple salad of lettuce, onions and tomatoes with oil and vinegar is a common accompaniment. Other possibilities include grilled potatoes or roasted red peppers.
Which meat would you start your Argentinean feast with?
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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