Our Guide to Argentinian-Style Asado

September 09, 2016
By Morgan Bergren, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

In Argentina, the traditional asado is the social event of the week, typically taking up half of a weekend day. Friends and family gather around the wood-fired grill for drinks and conversation while the asador, or grillmaster, maintains the smoldering coals (no flames!) necessary for several courses of low and slow barbecue. The result? Smoky beef with a sizzling, salty crust and a juicy, tender interior – and the satisfaction of mastering this primal, timeless technique.

The Kalamazoo Gaucho Grill takes the time-honored tradition of Argentinean-style asado and makes it possible to achieve in your own home. The Gaucho Grill is fitted with a convenient gas starter that ignites the wood fire quickly and easily. A 30-inch spoked wheel raises and lowers the grill grates above the coals, so you can manually control the cooking intensity: effortlessly raise food high above the heat for lower-temperature roasting, or lower the grill grates down towards the coals for searing heat. Ready to grill the Argentinean way? Read on for our tips and techniques.

Skirt steak grilling over coals on the Kalamazoo Gaucho Grill

Choosing the right ingredients

There are more cows than people in Argentina, and all of those cows eat grass. At Kalamazoo we prefer to cook with top quality grass-fed beef due to its meatier, juicier taste. Of course, it’s all a matter of preference, but the flavor of a gorgeous piece of grass-fed beef really shines when relying on nothing more than a little olive oil, salt and heat from the grill. If you’re seeking a true Argentinean experience, we recommend opting for grass-fed beef.

A typical asado menu includes courses like Grilled Proveleta, a simple salad, blood sausages or sweetbreads, mini chorizo sandwiches, and steak, often served with chimichurri. Some of the traditional cuts of beef include:

  • Bife de Chorizo: Sirloin steaks
  • Vacio: Flank steak
  • Bife Angosto: Porterhouse
  • Entraña: Skirt steak
  • Bife de Lomo: Tenderloin

Building your heat source

If you’re cooking with a Kalamazoo Gaucho Grill, start by building a three-layer log fire on top of the fire grates. Lay the first layer of hardwood limbs so they run front-to-back on top of the fire grate. Leave room between each piece of wood for air circulation. Lay the next layer of wood perpendicular to the first, leaving air space between the pieces. Lay the third layer perpendicular to the second (the same orientation as the first layer), again leaving spaces for air. This three-layer configuration creates an ideal cooking fire that starts quickly and cooks for a long time. As the wood turns to embers, the fire will collapse on itself into an even layer of coals across the fire grates. It’s the embers you want to cook over, so for the true Argentinean way, start your fire an hour or more before you’d like to begin cooking.

A three-layered wood fire in the Kalamazoo Gaucho Grill

Cooking the Argentinean way

Grilling low and slow over the embers of a wood fire imparts a subtle smoky flavor and a juicy, tender texture to steak. Plus, it’s a very primal and engaging experience. On our Gaucho Grill, you can change the grilling temperature by adjusting both the height of the grill grate and where the embers are concentrated in the firebox. While oak and fruitwood are classic choices for an Argentinean wood fire, you can also experiment with other types of wood. There are many ways to make the Argentinean grilling experience your own.

Make sure your fire has burned down to hot coals before starting to cook. For long cooking sessions, dedicate one end of the grill to the generation of new coals. You can keep a fire going at this end by adding one or two extra splits of wood at a time. Rake the new coals into the cooking area as needed to maintain your heat.

Coals designated for cooking on the right, and an active fire for to generating new coals to the left

Traditional recipes

Gaucho-Grilled Steak, Argentinean Style

Our Gaucho-Grilled Steak recipe couldn’t be simpler, but the results are incredible. Searing the salted meat close to over hot coals creates a flavorful crust and infuses the steak with a delicious subtle smoke flavor.


We find this Provoleta recipe to be addictive. As it grills, the interior of the cheese melts while the outside forms a bit of a crust. It’s a divine contrast on top of grilled rustic bread.

Provoleta grilling on the wood-fired Gaucho Grill

Tips for serving guests

Whatever you decide to cook at your asado, serve each course as soon as it comes off the grill so your guests are always nibbling on something. And don’t forget the red wine; Malbec is the classic choice. When the evening is over, we hope your guests treat you to the aplauso para el asador – the traditional round of hearty applause for the chef.