No, this is not the title of some sleazy video, but it’s a genuine issue for the barbecue lover to keep the meat warm while it’s sitting on the table.
Keeping barbecue meat warm before eating it
One option is to only serve the meat you’re about to eat and leave the rest on the barbecue, guarding it personally as not to let it get dry or worse: burn! A great strategy that no true asador (barbecue operator) would mind but it does tend to keep you away from the social event that is unfolding at the table.
The other option is to get yourself a “brasero”.
This common Argentine household article is essentially just a metal serving dish with a charcoal container underneath. They come in many designs, shapes, sizes and levels of quality, but by far the most common is this “chatita” (little can)
It’s unlikely to be available in your area but if you search for “Brasero Parrilla” you’ll probably find a (sort-of) local importer of Argentine / Paraguayan articles that may have it.
If you’re into Argentine Barbecue (Parrilla) then you can’t go without the proper charcoal. Although many Argentinians prefer using wood (leña) a lot of charcoal is used too. Typically this made from quebracho wood.
There’s two very important reasons why you should use Quebracho wood when doing things the Argentinian way:
1. Quebracho’s characteristic scent and flavor
If you’ve ever been to Argentina then the scent of burning Quebracho will surely trigger fond memories of fire, food and friendship set against a smokey backdrop caused by burning Quebracho.
That scent also rubs off on whatever you’re grilling. So it’s truly noticable if you use another type of wood.
2. Quebracho burns much longer than ordinary charcoal
The Quebracho tree is a type of oak, making it a slow growing and dense type of wood. This results in a type of charcoal that holds a lot of energy which is released slowly.
But not only does it burn much longer than common charcoal types, it also is apt to be used in a grill where the charcoal doesn’t get any air from below. Which is exactly the way Argentinian barbecues are built.
Once I’m done with my fire-fests I extinguish the remaining charcoal and use it again for my next fire-fest rather than just letting it burn up. Saves money, avoids more strain on the environment.
Pizza or beef … Why choose if you can have it both?
If there’s one thing the Argentine know to prepare it’s beef and pizza. Having both the best cattle in the world and Italian ancestors is bound to lead to some strange plates.
Take Matambre a la pizza for example. It’s a slab of thin beef (flank steak) covered in everything you’d put on a pizza: Tomato sauce, Mozzarella cheese, Grated Cheese, Ham, some Herbs, Salt and Pepper and maybe some Olives as well.
Now toss that puppy on the barbeque and you’ll be stuffed like a thanksgiving turkey in no time!
Here’s the recipe:
2 Kilos of matambre (flank steak)
1 liter of milk
200 grams of Mozzarella
+/- 400ml of pure tomato sauce
3 average sized onions
Some ají (basically an Argentine red pepper.. The spicy one, not a bell pepper)
6 pitless olives
Put the matambre in a big pan together with the milk and some water and cook the matambre for about 1,5 hours. Some people will say this is not needed if you get a good flank steak but the odds of the meat being very chewy are rather high.
Season the matambre and put it on the barbeque (parrilla) for about 20 minutes on each side so both sides are nice golden brown. Times may vary based on the heat you’re applying. Then take the matambre from the parrilla.
Now, let’s work on the sauce.
Cut 3 onions and the red pepper into small pieces.
Put a big pan on the fire with some sunflower oil and toss the onion and peppers in there until the onions are nice and translucent. You may opt to put a small piece of the matambre in there too for added flavor.
Now add the tomato sauce and about 200ml of water to the pan together with 1 tablespoon of sugar, salt, and cook this somewhere between 25 and 40 minutes.
Now apply the sauce to the matambre. Add lots of sauce, followed by the mozzarella and then the oregano, olives and any other cheeses or ham you may want to add.
Now toss the whole thin onto the parrilla again until the cheese(s) melt.
Let the whole thing cool down for 5 minutes so the cheese firm enough to not slide from the meat.
If there’s two things I really like it’s BBQ and having guests.
I love everything from the prep work and the knowledge we’ll be spending some quality time with friends to the scent and crisp of the first flames all the way through to the end of a wonderful afternoon or evening. It’s all part of the experience.
And even though far from a good asador (which is how the Argentines call the pitmaster) I decided to remodel the cabin in our backyard and change it into a great place to roast something, regardless of the weather.
The entire thing was built by me, except for the metal parts which were designed by me, but fabricated by Kachelmaterialenshop and BBQMakers (Viktor Krabbenborg)
Want to build your own barbeque just like this one? Here’s my Sketchup designs (1, 2) which you may use for inspiration.
NOTE that there’s several things wrong with the initial design so there’s quite a lot of smoke coming back into the room.
The main reason for that is that the opening in the front is very large in comparison with the length and diameter of the smoke channel. The heat can cool down quite a lot before it reaches the chimney and so there’s too little upward draft.
I’ve been able to improve this by removing the first “ceiling” resulting in a more bell-shaped and “deeper” smoke chamber which should allow for a better buildup of warmth that should cause smoke to be forced up the chimney. Effectively I’ve built a bell within the bell, laced with calcium silicate board to avoid the wood and the outside of the bell getting hot.
Still, that wasn’t quite good enough, so I tried applying a “garganta” but that didn’t seem to solve the issue so I removed it.
What you really need is the following:
The chimney diameter should be at least 5 cm wider.
Get a longer smoke channel I chose to keep it short to not ruin the view for my neighbors but I’m paying the price for that now.