As summer is coming to an end, temperatures are slowly (keyword being slowly) dropping and fall decor is starting to fill the aisles. Some schools are reopening and college football is back in some places (yay!), but one thing we can be absolutely sure of this fall season: social distancing guidelines will continue. And what better way to gather while practicing social distancing than grilling in the yard? You can invite a small group of people over, put some meat on the barbecue, and stay outside to lower your risk.
And while you're at it, why not try something new? Put a twist on your usual backyard-grilling by having a Chilean barbecue. A Chilean barbecue is called an "Asado" and is a long-standing Chilean tradition of family and friends coming together for community, fun, and of course, good food. Sound familiar? An asado shares some of the same qualities as a barbecue, but it has a few distinctive and fun differences that will make your barbecue stand out this fall. Here's how to host your own.
1. Grill over a wood fire
Unlike most barbecues, asados do not require fancy grilling equipment or a gas grill. You simply cook the meat over a wood fire for a long period of time. This allows the meat to soak in smokey, aromatic flavors from the fire and produce flavorful, tender cuts. You can even add herbs, such as rosemary or lavender, to your fire for extra flavor and distinction. Because the slow roasting adds so much flavor, you won't find complex marinades, an array of seasonings, or family-secret recipes at many asados. Instead, you only need to season with salt to bring out the natural flavors of the fire-roasted meat.
2. Allow your guests to relax
Grilling is typically assigned to a grill master, who will overlook the Chilean grill. The grill master will tend to the meat all day while the others make sides in the kitchen or circle around while sipping on Malbec. Community is an essential aspect of a Chilean barbecue and the reason why everyone gathers (as well as the delicious meat and wine, of course).
Barbecues can be a frenzy of everyone preparing food, pouring drinks, and trying to get the table prepared. At your Chilean barbecue, try to set the stage for a relaxing and social day. If you prepare ahead of time, you can set the tone for an unhurried event. Buy the meat the day before, assign a grill master (or two), find out who is bringing sides and the wine, and make sure you have plenty of seating. This forethought will allow your guests to relax with fresh bread and a hearty wine in hand, knowing everything is taken care of.
3. Make sure you have plenty of meat
Food is in abundance at Chilean barbecues, especially meat. Instead of simply grilling burgers, chicken, or steaks, you would go to the butcher shop and pick up several different pieces of meat - such as lamb, pork, chorizo, chicken, or steak. While the meat is on the grill, you can serve your guests fresh bread and pair it with any seared meat that finishes first. At an asado, meat can be eaten in rounds, almost like an appetizer. This will tie over your guests until the main meal and will prevent the grill master from feeling rushed. At an asado, great meat takes time.
4. Serve fresh sides and salads
While the meat is roasting on the grill and bread is being passed around, have some guests prepare fresh salads in the kitchen. Chilean salads are hearty, garden-fresh, and simple. The most popular salad, ensalada chilena, comprises of fresh tomatoes, raw onion, and lots of cilantro. You can add olive oil or lime juice for extra flavor. At some asados, you can even find empanadas and some chimichurri for dipping the bread into. The sides differ regionally, so feel free to put your own spin on the sides (although Chilean salads are a must-try).
5. And most importantly, pour the wine
A Chilean barbecue would not be complete without the perfect pairing of Malbec to grilled meat. It's a Chilean staple and is sure to give your guests the best pairing possible. Our Malbec is native of Cahors, France and aged in oak barrels for a vintage taste. It contains concentrated sweet fruit, aromas of blackberries and black plums, and a touch of black pepper, vanilla, and chocolate. The notes of the Malbec harmonize perfectly with barbecue and meld perfectly on the palate.
Chilean barbecues are all about good food and even better wine and company. It is the perfect time to try something new and to safely be around your loved ones. Enjoy hosting your very own asado, and we wish you happy eating!