The scent of smoldering wood lingering upon the crisp autumn air recently motivated us to gather some friends around a flame of our own. From outdoor hearths and brick ovens to bonfires and fire pits, we love an opportunity to enjoy nature’s chill while dining near the heat of a crackling blaze. However, this fall, we were encouraged to think beyond sliders and s’mores. Following the tradition of our South American friends who have made “barbecue” an art that is [somewhat] rooted in equestrian sport, we discovered the asado.
Comparing an asado to a Western BBQ is a bit of an injustice to a culture that abstains from smothering meat in sauces while browning it over a gas grill. In Argentina, meat is served naked, flavored only by hot coals and coarse salt. This simple technique has not changed much since the 1800s when Argentine cowboys used it to keep themselves fed while working the plains surrounding Buenos Aires. The asado has evolved into a social tradition (much in the way we do Sunday brunch), and has even become synonymous with polo matches.
In order to satiate our appetite for authenticity, we approached native Argentine and equestrian friend Martin Videla and his wife Rachel, and inquired about their secrets to a DIY asado after devouring a feast of their production last week. The Videlas recently relocated their hunter/jumper farm, Rancho Pampa, from Buenos Aires to Aiken, South Carolina, with their grill skills in tow. While they train, coach, compete, and raise a family here in the States, the Videlas make an annual trek or two to Argentina with clients who are in search of a new mount along with some cultural immersion: basically, a ride-until-you-are-blissfully-saddle-sore horse shopping vacation (more on that in a few weeks) with a lot of good food.
In the meantime, they are also known to stoke a fire or two for friends (like us), forever changing the way we “grill out.”
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