FOOD: THE MAGNIFICENCE OF URUGUAYAN GRILLING

grill 2I have cooked meat in methods that would make your head spin. Cochinita Pibil is a latin pork dish. You dig a hole in the ground, start a fire,  then place large to medium rocks around the fire with a few in the fire.  You rub the pork with ground annatto seed,  cumin, coriander, tequila; marinade the pork, wrap it in banana leaves, set it in a large heavy baking pan with lid,  place it on the hot rocks and coals.  Then cover that with more banana leaves and bury it with dirt, and come back in 24 hours!  My neighbors thought I was nuts, but when you taste that meat, lay your hand on my shoulder and thank me with your mouth full, I know it’s all in the never ending quest to be the ultimate savage of the Culinary arts.

grill4With great pleasure, we had the opportunity to talk to this week’s podcast guest Jean-Paul Gaster about the Uruguayan grill, a cooking surface called a parrillero, an outdoor brick oven  structure that holds the cooking surface, hood, metal grill and storage.

You will never see an asado or BBQ being made using charcoal in Uruguay, the folks always use firewood. Cooking can be done al asador or a la parrilla. In the first case, a fire is made on the ground or in a fire pit and surrounded by metal crosses (asadores) that hold the entire carcass of an animal splayed open to receive the heat from the fire. In the second case, a fire is made and after the charcoal has formed, a grill with the meat is placed over it

grill8Asado is a term used both for a range of barbecue techniques and the social event of having or attending a barbecue in Uruguay, where beef is considered the national dish.  In these countries, asado is a traditional dish and also the standard word for “barbecue”  An asado usually consists of beef alongside various other meats, which are cooked on a grill, called a parrilla, or an open fire.

grill6In Uruguaydirect embers or hot coals are used. Usually the asador begins by igniting the wood pieces  often mixed with native trees, avoiding pines and eucalyptus as they have strong-smelling resins. In more sophisticated asados the wood is of a specific tree or made on the coal of recently burned wood, which is also commonplace when having an asado in a campfire.  – DAN