In South America, weekends are a time to get together and eat meat–and lots of it! Hosting a grilling extravaganza, called an asado, is a great way to celebrate. The tradition of slowing roasting many different cuts of meat over a fire comes from the cattle farming countries such as Argentina and Uruguay, but the tradition has spread throughout South America.
Simply seasoned meat is typically the main show, but there are lots of other things that cook well on the grill, and South Americans like to experiment. There are many unique grilling techniques that come from the region as well, such as the famous Colombian dish lomo al trapo (an entire beef filet wrapped in a thick layer of salt and cloth and cooked in the coals). In the Patagonian chef Francis Mallman's cookbook called Seven Fires, he describes a total of seven distinct methods for cooking over a fire. South Americans have a true passion for this ancient way of cooking, something they are happy to share with the rest of the world.
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Gathering together for long weekend meals featuring a variety of grilled meats is an important tradition throughout South America. Achieve tender and juicy steaks, with a nice smokey flavor by cooking slices of beef tenderloin on a plank on the grill with Argentinian Plank Steak. Or try Matambre, where colorful vegetables are the centerpiece (literally) of these flank steak roulades.
Beef Anticuchos is a popular street food in South America, traditionally made with beef heart. Tira de Asado are cut crosswise on the bone so each piece has more meat and less bone. Benefiting from a long, slow cook on the grill, these Grilled Pork Ribs take on deep flavor from the marinade and glaze.
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No barbecue is complete without a selection of interesting and tasty side dishes. Serve Tamales a la Parilla, corn husks filled with masa and a mixture of corn, tomatoes, green onions, and cheese. Chimichurri Potato Salad is an ideal way to use leftover chimichurri sauce.
Not your average potato salads, Ensalada Rusa features peas, carrots, and dill pickles, and Papa a la Huancaína Potato Salad is cold boiled potatoes covered in a cheesy aji chili pepper sauce. Like a vegetarian ceviche, Fresh Corn and Queso Fresco Salad mimics the flavors of this fish dish and includes mozzarella in place of traditional seafood.
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The best part about South American grilling may be the great array of sauces served alongside the grilled meats. Garlicky chimichurri sauce is excellent with steak. Mango sauce is delicious with grilled chicken or fish. Peruvian salsa criolla, made of sweet marinated onions, lime and aji peppers, is delicious with everything.
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Tropical fruits, cool mousses or chilled tres leches cake are the perfect finishes to a summer meal. This Tres Leches uses cake mix for ease and speed. Passionfruit Mousse can be served simply in parfait glasses or layered with cake. For a professional-looking dessert try the layered Mango Mousse Cake. Mango Passionfruit Pie is similar to key lime pie but with a mango passionfruit filling.