Ar­gentina’s smoky style

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JOE DAW­SON

For the peo­ple of Ar­gentina the very idea of the gas bar­be­cue found in so many Kiwi back­yards is al­most re­pul­sive.

What’s the point of scorch­ing a few snarlers and meat pat­ties on a smoke­less grill?

As El Siz­zling Chorizo head chef Ale­jan­dro Gar­cia says ‘‘the magic is in the smoke’’.

El Siz­zling Chorizo opened in Pon­sonby Cen­tral in 2012.

In Ar­gentina th­ese restau­rants are com­mon­place, ca­sual places where fam­i­lies get to­gether. The fo­cus is straight­for­ward – it’s all about meat.

‘‘The most im­por­tant thing is how long you cook the beef and what kind of beef it is,’’ Mr Gar­cia says.

‘‘The wood is im­por­tant too be­cause the most flavour comes from the smoke and the smoke is the se­cret.

‘‘So you need re­ally good wood and a re­ally good, slow cook­ing time.’’

When cooked, beef and lamb are sprayed with a brine of salt and wa­ter while chicken and pork get a so­lu­tion of le­mon juice and wa­ter.

A herby chimichurri sauce ac­com­pa­nies ev­ery­thing.

But the sim­plic­ity does not trans­late to ease. It’s hard work be­cause a fire has to be lit at 8am and kept burn­ing un­til clos­ing some 14 hours later. Some cuts can take up to six hours of cook­ing.

‘‘You can find this kind of place ev­ery­where in Ar­gentina,’’ man­ager Mar­i­ano Bavassa says.

‘‘Th­ese places are for the ca­sual peo­ple, for any­one.’’

The bar­be­cues, or asado, are also pop­u­lar in Ar­gen­tinian homes and be­come the fo­cus of gath­er­ings.

‘‘You start with a glass of wine and hang­ing out around the bar­be­cue with friends.

‘‘It’s the same con­cept as a hangi – fam­ily and time.’’

Pho­tos: JOE DAW­SON

Fire pit: The bar­be­cue or asado – a char­coal en­thu­si­ast’s dream.

Magic smoke: El Siz­zling Chorizo head chef Ale­jan­dro Gar­cia.

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