There is a complexity about cooking with open fire that you can taste in the meat. It’s totally different to cooking in your grill. Asado style cooking is the ultimate kick for every enthusiastic backyard griller.
And Asado style cooking isn’t about doing it perfectly. It’s about real cooking and let the fire build the flavours.
What’s the Set up for an Asado cook
You start by building a fire in a pit or enclosed area. Just keep it safe so that kids and pets can’t get to it. Then it would be best if you had an Asado cross. Preferably stainless steel and sturdy enough to carry a whole pig.
After that you need wood. And a lot. I like to use beech because it falls apart in good-sized embers. If you would use oak, for example, it just turns into ash. Start building a fire at least an hour upfront to get a bed of embers.
Prepping the pig for an Asado cross
When the wood is burning, you can prep the pig to be attached to the cross. I had to get rid of the pig’s coat, but the butcher usually takes care of this if you buy a whole pig.
Then the only thing you have to do is spread the pig by chopping open the collar bone and spine, so it lays flat.
When you lay the pig with its back down on the work surface, you put the cross on top and attach the horizontal beams to the legs.
Now I season the meat with only salt and pepper. We don’t need much more because we let the fire build the flavour.
How to do an Asado cook
When you place the pig next to the fire, we do that with the back to the heat. Feel with your hands what the temperature is from the embers. It’s the correct temperature when you can just hold your hand next to the pig without pulling back. Otherwise, you have to adjust the distance from the pig to the Pitt.
We want to cook the meat nice and slow to prevent the meat from burning.
All you have to do now is to keep an eye on the fire and the colour of the meat. You break up the wood when it turns into embers.
When the pig’s back starts to dry out like parchment paper, it’s time to turn the pig, so the inside faces the heat.
Making a sauce
Now you’ve got some time to make a vinaigrette to cool down the meat while it’s cooking. Roughly chop two cloves of garlic, two shallots and a handful of flat-leaf parsley.
Then you need a bottle of red wine with just a bottom of red wine left. 100 ml is enough. If you only have a full bottle of wine, you know what to do.
Stuff the chopped garlic, shallots and parsley in the bottle and pour in 200 ml of red wine vinegar and 100 ml of olive oil. Give it a good shake.
Sprinkle this vinaigrette on the meat. Front and back. Do this every time you see the meat drying out.
When the cook is done
When the meat almost reaches the desired temperature of about 65°C (149F), you could lower the meat to get it closer to the heat to get a crust. After that, you take the pig away from the heat to let it rest for 10 to 20 minutes. In the meantime, you cut away the wires and remove the cross.
As you carve up the meat, it’s good to have a little knowledge of butchery. That way, you can cut out the best parts like the loin. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter. Everything you cut off is going to be delicious.