Grass-Fed Grilling, the Uruguayan Way

Be a Parrillero, the Hero of the Labor Day Grill

Uruguay: a country where 80% of the land is available for grazing livestock, and where cattle outnumber people by 3:1. As we enter the glory days of outdoor beef grilling, take a cue from true cattle culture and thrill your guests (or yourself) with a parrilla-inspired meal. All it takes is premium grass-fed beef, grilled to perfection and topped with our simple grilled steak and chimichurri recipe below.

Asado: A National Identity

“Asado” translates to “barbecue” – both the technique and the event. In Uruguay, asado is a definitive traditional dish cooked on an open pit grill, or “parrilla.”

cooking meat on a Uruguayan grill (Asado)Asado is rooted in the culture of the Uruguayan gauchos; today, the aroma of cooked meat can be found everywhere from pueblos to urban cookouts. A visit to the Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo, an open, skylit market on the waterfront, is packed with competing parrillas. Asado de obra – “construction work grilled beef” – is a Friday tradition on Uruguayan worksites.

Parrilla: The Technique, the Meat, the Glory

While the parrilla itself can be involved, complete with impressive wood pyres, it always starts with a wood fire. As hot coals develop, they are shifted to the side. An iron grill for the meat is positioned over the side with the hot coals and can be angled for better temperature control. Overall, it’s a slower cooking technique.

Uruguay has been described as “one big farm,” and the vast majority of Uruguayan cattle are grass-fed. True asadors preserve the nutty, earthy flavor of grass-fed beef – so there’s no marinating, and meat prep is minimal. Simple sea salt and a side of chimichurri are typically all you need.

Grass-fed sirloin, flank, ribs, filet, rump, or skirt steak can all be used, as well as more exotic options like sweetbreads.

Asado at Home 

home style asado cookingIf you have a fire pit, you’re in luck. Start the fire early to get red hot coals and place a cast iron grate on the side of the pit (or use the grate from your grill). Keep the fire going on the side, continuing to shovel hot embers under the meat from time to time.

No fire pit and no time to build a sweet cinder block grill? No worries. You can capture the essence of the parrilla with quality grass-fed beef, good grilling technique, and one of our favorite chimichurri recipes below.

Remember, premium grass-fed beef product is a must: so if you’re grilling to impress, go Verde or go home.

At-Home Asado: Grass-Fed Steak a la Parrilla with Green Chimichurri

Use a fire pit or cinder block grill if you have one – otherwise, capture the essence of the asado with this recipe on your outdoor grill.

Justin’s Green Chimichurri

6 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
1 jalapeno, minced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 handfuls of fresh oregano, finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp crushed black peppercorns

  • Combine garlic and salt on a cutting board and grind together to a paste with the back of a chef’s knife; transfer to bowl
  • Stir in jalapeno, vinegar, parsley, oregano, lime juice
  • Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and crushed peppercorns
  • Set aside at room temperature

Grass-Fed Steak Tips, AKA Sirloin Flap

Verde Farms Sirloin, ~ ½ lb per person, room temperature and liberally salted.

  • Preheat the grill to high. We mean it – get it hot
  • Grill on high for 4 minutes on each side
  • Let steak rest for ~5 minutes

Serve simply with chimichurri on the side. Congratulate yourself on doing justice to steak tradition.