9 Ways How to Grill Like An Argentinian

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One of summer’s greatest pleasures is barbecue grilling.

To make the most of your barbecue season, we invite you to discover Argentinian grilling. 

Argentina takes beef seriously and they have mastered the art of grilling.

After three months in Argentina on our quest for authentic food, we shared and enjoyed many asados or Argentinian barbecues.

We also dined at several parrillas known as steakhouses where Argentine grilling is front and center. 

By observing how Argentinians grill, we learned about the various Argentine grilling techniques and what make them so unique.

To further ground ourselves in the Argentinian grilling culture, we had the pleasure of meeting Francis Mallmann, Argentine celebrity chef.

According to Mallmann, grilling in Argentina isn’t just about the food, it is a ritual and ceremony. 

To make your summer grilling remarkable, here are 9 ways to grill like an Argentinian.

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1- Start With Good Quality Ingredients

Argentinian grilling Authentic Food Quest
Cattle grazing in the open fields of the Argentine Pampas

When it comes to what you put on the grill, the quality of the ingredients matter. 

In Argentina, the cows where the meat comes from are grass fed. In the Pampas, one of the most important farming regions, you see the cows freely roaming and eating grass in the fields. 

As a result, the beef cuts are leaner and healthier. You will find quality ingredients not only for the beef, but also for chicken, pork, fish and vegetables.

In Argentina, the quality of the products that are put on the grill is exceptionally high. You will never see frozen patties cooking on a grill.

This means that in the end, when eating the food, you will be able to greatly appreciate the flavors and textures. 

When grilling this summer, get the best quality products you can, and taste the difference. 

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: You might not be able to get Argentinian beef though in the U.S. a great alternative is American Wagyu beef from Snake River Farms. Their wagyu beef, one of the best in the world comes from local farmers, and is natural and hormone-free. This tender and flavorful beef is ideal for Argentinian grilling. Check out their subscription box programs for added convenience and freshness of your meats.

2- Grill Over Wood

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Wood fire burning separately, next to the meat on the grill.

Gas grilling would be an offense in Argentina. In Argentinian grilling is always done using wood. 

When preparing the Argentine grill, Argentinians start with a fire made of wood.

You’ll notice on every Argentina bbq, a little corner or nook that is built-in for the wood to burn. 

Once the coals become hot, they are placed underneath the meat for cooking purposes.  

When the meat is cooked over a wood fire, the flavors are enhanced making the need for marinades or rubs unnecessary.

The meats develop wonderful smoky flavors that are not overpowering. 

The next time you grill, think about using wood fire and be prepared to taste the difference. 

RELATED: 12 of the Best Argentine Grills For Sale – A Full Review

3- Don’t Let The Flames Touch The Food

Argentinian grilling where the meat does not touch the flames
Meat cooking with hot coal and not the flames

The barbecue grills in Argentina look different from the typical grills in the U.S. One of the most striking differences is that Argentinian bbq grills have a wheel crank that raises or lowers the grill.

If you look closely at the grills, you will notice a second difference. In Argentina, the grills are V-shaped. This helps capture and contain the fat drippings and oils. 

Instead of the fat dripping into the fire and causing flare ups, the fat slides through the V-shaped grills and slides into a slot. 

This fat can be reused for basting the meat and it also makes the cleaning process much easier. 

Fire is the enemy in Argentinian grilling. This is one of the secrets of Argentine grilling techniques.

Contact with direct flames leads to burning, or “over carbonization” which results in burnt and bitter flavors. 

This is not great for the meat or for your health.

4- Argentine Grilling Secret “Crust The Meat”

Argentinian grilling with ribs cooked on the grill with crust
Ribs cooked on the grill with crust

The most important step while cooking the meat is the first contact between the food and the grill. 

You want to keep the meat in contact with the grill so it creates a thin brown crust. 

According to Francis Mallmann, “the crust keeps the meat moist by preventing the juice from escaping as the meat cooks.”

When observing the asador or grill master, you will not see them flipping the meat around. 

It is this idea Francis Mallmann described as “you must respect the first contact between food and the cooking surface”

The art is to cook the meat with the right amount of grilling so that you have a nice crust without burning the meat. 

This takes practice but it is worth the effort to get the most juicy flavors out of the meat. 

To learn more about this technique and other precious Argentinian grilling tips, here’s a great read from the Argentine grilling master, Francis Mallmann.

One tip to remember is to remove the meat from the fridge before cooking so it reaches room temperature. 

If the meat is too cold when put on the grill, it might get tough to eat.

5 – Grill Slow At Low Temperatures

9 BBQ tips for Argentinian grilling by AuthenticFoodQuest
Meat cooking slow on the grill (Photo credit, The Vines of Mendoza)

Argentine grilling means that the meat is cooked long and slow. In Argentina, the asador typically cooks a variety of cuts of meat over long periods of time for large groups.

With meat that is lean from the grass fed cows, one would expect it to dry out. But instead, what is surprising is that the meat is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

The asador moves the hot coal under the meat and adjusts the grill to regulate the temperatures for maximum juiciness.

This cooking technique on lower heat for long periods, transforms even the leanest of grass-fed meat into tender and delicious beauties. 

The wait is long and the aromas can be painfully delicious.

6- The Simpler The Sauce, The Better

Argentinian Chimichurri sauce Argentine Dishes Authentic Food Quest
Argentinian Chimichurri sauce

When you start with good products and the meat is cooked long and slow, you will find that you will rarely need to add any condiments to your meat. Some salt and bay leaves would be fine.

In Argentina, the most popular sauce for Argentinian grilling is chimichurri. This sauce is made of parsley, garlic, oregano, red pepper, vinegar, and olive oil. 

The chimichurri can be put on top of the meat as a final touch just before eating.

By keeping the condiments and sauces simple you put the meat front and center. The taste of the meat isn’t masked by thick and strong-flavored sauces. 

For your next barbecue, consider using only salt and herbs. If you choose, you can also make chimichurri sauce at home.  

It is best to prepare it a day or two before the barbecue as chimichurri sauce ages with time and becomes much more flavorful.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: Authentic Argentine chimichurri sauce is delicious and easy to make. Use this simple chimichurri recipe for your grilled meats and Argentinian grilling experience. 

7- Put More Than Beef On The Grill

Argentinian grilling at The Vines of Mendoza
Sausages, offal and vegetables on the grill (Photo credit, The Vines of Mendoza)

While beef is the king of the barbecue, you will be surprised to see more diverse cuts in Argentina. Argentine grilling goes beyond hamburgers and hot dogs. 

When we were invited to asados, we were quite surprised to see the variety of offal or organ meats that made up about half of the meats on the grill.

Offal or achuras in Argentina are quite popular. You will find chinchulines (cow intestines), morcillas (blood sausages), mollejas (sweetbread) and a variety of other organ meats. 

These are delicious Argentine indulgences and can add to your grilling experience. 

When preparing for your barbecue this summer, be creative and ask your local butcher for non ordinary cuts and pieces of meat. 

If you don’t have a local butcher, visit the meat section of the ethnic food stores near you. This is a great alternative and the vendors will be happy to help you find tasty innards for your Argentinian bbq.

Looking for More Food and Local Tips About Argentina?

Our book Authentic Food Quest Argentina takes you on a culinary tour through four main regions of the country. Discover the must-eat local specialties and taste the best of Argentina on your travels.

8- Emulate The Argentinian Grilling Rituals

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Getting the asado ready for grilling. (Photo credit, The Vines of Mendoza)

Preparing the meat and grilling is not a haphazard affair in Argentina. There is a ritual and process that is observed and respected. 

First, there is a designated grill master, called the asador. Traditionally male, many asadors learned their techniques from their fathers and grandfathers.

It is an honored role and the asador takes charge of the grilling process from start to finish.

The process starts with getting the coals ready. Long and slow cooking is key.

When it is time to cook, the most common appetizer served is chorizo. This is a pork/beef sausage that easily becomes a choripán sandwich when eaten with bread.

Following the chorizo, the offals are served and finally the various cuts of meat. 

Once the meat is served and everybody has tucked away a considerable amount, someone calls out for “un aplauso para el asador”. A round of applause for the asador. 

Everyone claps to show their appreciation for the asador who has been cooking in 90+ temperatures for several hours.

Consider creating your own rituals around your grilling routine. Show appreciation for the meal and the shared moments.

And, why not applaud the grillmaster!

READ RELATED: 10 Popular Argentinian Street Food To Feast On

9 – Argentinian Grilling Is A Day Long Affair

Argentinian grilling at an asado in Tandil, Argentina
Enjoying an asado in Tandil, Argentina

The Argentine asado or Argentinian barbecue is a detailed and lengthy affair. We are not talking about the experience at a restaurant where your waiter brings your food. 

What we are talking about is the traditional Argentinian grilling experience with locals in their homes.

If you visit Argentina and get an invitation to an asado, do not miss the opportunity. 

The asado is such an important part of the culture that the local TV hosts won’t say if it will rain or shine on Sunday. Instead, they will  tell you if you’ll be able to eat an asado outdoors or not. 

Eating at the asado typically starts between 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm and guests can remain seated well past 6:00 pm eating several rounds of dishes. 

At our first Argentinian asado in the pampas, we enjoyed a very laid back atmosphere and slow eating pace. 

Our Argentinian barbecue experience that day included chicken and pork, brought out in waves. 

Fresh green salads and potatoes were constantly passed around. The food was washed down with a never ending supply of beer and Malbec wines for the adults.

Desserts was another long drawn out affair. We enjoyed different types of sweets, including variations of the famous dulce de leche

All of this was accompanied with coffee and yerba mate, a traditional drink. The night ended past midnight with folklore music and traditional dances. 

As you gear up to grill this season, add the spirit of dolce far niente to your event. This Italian expression “the sweetness of doing nothing” is commonplace in Argentina. 

Plan for nothing else on your grilling days. Simply kick back, enjoy good food, good company and be fully present in the moment.

READ RELATED: Top 7 Most Authentic Desserts in Argentina

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In Summary

This summer, what better way to celebrate the season than with an amazing Argentinian barbecue. 

Elevate your bbq skills and surprise your guests with these 9 Argentinian grilling tips. Try new and different cuts of meat. And, bring out the flavors with the bright and tangy chimichurri sauce. 

Whichever of these Argentine grilling techniques you choose, your summer grilling experience will be even more memorable.

Share with us your favorite food to grill in the comments below!

Savor The Adventure!

Love Argentinian Grilling? Pin it!

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133 thoughts on “9 Ways How to Grill Like An Argentinian”

  1. This was such a helpful and informative post! We love authentic ways to make food and we can’t wait to try these different ways! Looks so tasty and bursting with flavor!

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  2. This was such a helpful and informative post! We love authentic ways to make food and we can’t wait to try these different ways! Looks so tasty and bursting with flavor!

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  3. That grilling looks so crazy! I ate at an Argentinian steakhouse restaurant before in Chicago and it was amazing, didn’t realize I missed it!

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  4. Wow, thank you so much for all of your information! I learnt so much reading this post, and will save it for when I am next grilling 🙂

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  5. This brings back very nice memory of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten, and of course it’s Argentinian. Now to figure out how to make it happen in my home.

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  6. These are some wonderful tips. I’ll have to make sure to follow these the next time we grill. I absolutely love grilling out. The food tastes so much better that way.

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  7. i love steaks and i love Argentinian steaks even more. I Love it over charcoal and the simple sauces like chimichurri what a wonderful post and as a food blogger, i was salivating. A wonderful post

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  8. After reading your tips I’m totally hungry! It looks so delicious and I can’t wait to make my own grill and for sure I will use your tips. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Hablo desde la Patagonia Argentina y me agrada la curiosidad que tienen por asar la carne como lo hacemos aca…solo se que aca lo hacemos respetando la tradicion….los gauchos desde hace 200 años lo hacian asi…respetando tanto la carne como el calor, sea el calor de llama, que por estos lados cocina un cordero “al palo” o las mismas brasas que cocinan las entrañas.

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  10. Nice and really thorough steps! I love that you are trying to teach us how people in Argentina would grill their meat! I always love the challenge to make foreign cuisine taste as authentic as possible.

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  11. This is the most comprehensive article on grilling in general and Argentinian grilling in particular. I am not a meat eater but I agree that quality of ingredients and slow cooking is what makes food into gourmet 🙂 🙂 Good to know that Argentinians take their food seriously.

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    • Appreciate the feedback Nisha 🙂 Indeed, quality ingredients and a process to the cooking makes all the difference. Throw in friends, family and good company, wine and you have a feast for a day 🙂 Cheers.

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  12. I know their meats are world renowned guys. I love a good grilled steak myself, and am happy to be back in NJ for peak grilling season. Just the other day I got a waft of some burgers on the grill and wanted to crash the party. This is funny too as I go vegetarian for weeks at a time, mirroring my wife’s diet.

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  13. Thank you for the great tips! I’ve always known that Argentinians are famous for their grilling techniques but I did not know exactly what was so special about it. Now I get it! The chimichurri sauce sounds delicious by the way. Looking forward to experiencing an original Argentinian asado!

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    • So glad you enjoyed discovering the “secrets” to Argentine grilling. The chimichurri sauce is easy to make and really elevates the experience. Hope you get to experience a true Argentine asado soon :). Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. I didn’t know there is a special way that Argentinians do grilling, but they seem to be really into it! I think there is really something about using the simple but fresh and good quality stuff (simple sauce, good meat). I will try to do Argentinian style on my next grill party!

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  15. I think we need to visit Argentina. Love good meat! Grilled is best. But I am not sure I would want the organs, even grilled. It was interesting to hear about the process for grilling. I am sure that generations have perfected the right crusting technique. Your tip about letting the meat get to room temperature is one we have recently started. It makes such a difference in both cooking and re-heating meats so they don’t dry out. Thanks for this great post. I am now craving an Argentinian feast.

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    • Thank you Linda for your feedback and so happy to hear that you are already letting the meat get to room temperature first. The innards are quite tasty, you would be surprised. They are cooked to perfection in Argentina, and you will certainly become a convert. Hope you get there soon. Cheers.

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  16. What a great post on Argentinian grilled food. Chimichurri sauce is so delicious. Though I have sampled Argentinian food, I’m looking forward to tasting the local authentic flavours in Buenos Aries, where we are headed this October.

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  17. I love learning recipes when we travel and then cooking them at home. Such a fun way to remember a great destination. Grilling like an Argentinian sounds amazing—we haven’t been yet but would love to go. Thanks for all the great tips! We definitely need to grill again soon and will have to remember these tips–especially that it should be an all day affair–how fun!

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    • You are right Jenna, learning how to make the dishes back at home is a wonderful way to relive your travels. Yes, when you fire up the grill, do keep in mind it’s a relaxed and all day affair 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

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  18. Never grilled before (personally) but love that you broke this down into steps which is perfect for beginners like me. Even tips on how to crust the meat, to use wood, and to use a wide variety of produce and meats. Great post! Hope to make it to Argentina someday to taste the glory of their grilled meats!

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    • Oh my, it quite unusual to have met someone who has never grilled 🙂 A trip to Argentina will certainly get you curious to go deeper and learn how to grill. So glad you enjoyed the article though. Thanks for stopping by.

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  19. I need to meet an asador. Love the idea of a v shaped grill to catch the drippings and I didn’t know meat should be room temperature before going on the grill. There really is an art to grilling!

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    • Wonderful Sherianne, so glad you enjoyed reading about the Argentine grilling experience. It is truly a privilege to become an asador. It is a role that is taken quite seriously 🙂 Indeed, there is an art to grilling.

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  20. Having the opportunity to meet Chef Mallman…what a score! There is no where better in the world than Argentina to learn where to grill meat – this information you gathered is priceless! My hubby and I love to grill, it lets the natural flavors of the meat shine.

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    • Thanks Andi. It was truly an honor getting to meet Francis Mallmann. There is something so special about Argentinian grilling and we hope this article inspires all of us this grilling season to relish the experience, like the Argentines. Thanks for stopping by.

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  21. Fun and interesting article but surprised that there was no mention of quebracho, Argentinian primitive cooking would not be what it is were it not for the unique flavors imparted by burning quebracho wood.

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  22. I love grilling and this seems like a great way to impress my guests! The 9 Ways listed is a great start into doing that. Thanks for the intro into how to grill like an Argentinian!

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  23. Nice and very well documented tips on BBQ techniques. That makes me hungry while reading !
    Perhaps you would be interested in learning where the flavors of a grilled meat come from on a scientific point of view ? Have a look at this short video teaching us about the browning (Maillard) reactions https://youtu.be/DM7DVSJsBzg

    ciao, Tuan.

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    • Hi Tuan, thanks for your comments. So glad you enjoyed the post and the tips on Argentinian barbecue techniques. Thanks for sharing the video on maillard reaction; that’s indeed the scientific term for browning or crusting meat or food products. Always appreciate your feedback. Cheers

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    • Thanks Jennifer for your comments. You are right, Argentinians do have a lot more respect for their beef – from how to raise the cattle, to preparation and cooking. This does come through in the flavors. Agree!!

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    • Lucky you for having on-going access to delicious asado’s. That’s awesome. The chimichurri sauce is delicious and actually quite easy to prepare. We will be posting a recipe soon. Hang tight!! Cheers!

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  24. Oh, I love this. As keen BBQers, this is right up my alley. We’ve got an Argentinian friend who has built his own bbq just for this type of cooking. I absolutely love it and I will be taking your tips on board to give it a go myself. Thanks so much. So easy to follow.

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    • That’s wonderful Kerri that you are keen BBQers and you enjoyed this post. We’ve noticed that Argentinians living outside their home country usually end up building their own BBQ’s. There is something special about their grilling techniques that cannot be replicated. Give these tips a shot and let us know how your grilling evolves. Cheers!

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  25. Interesting ways (and guides) to grilling! Very different from what I’m used to/have seen/experienced. I like it that there’s a ritual and process which are observed there and that there is one designated grill master, when we, on the other hand, usually would just take turn to man the BBQ. 🙂 Also interesting to note about the use of a wheel crank to avoid contact between meat and fire.

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    • So glad that you enjoyed reading about how Argentines grill. It is different than the way we grill in North America. These details and of course starting with great quality products do make all the difference to the taste and experience. Thanks for your comments.

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  26. Grilled meat and wine were two reasons for me to go to Argentina – I wasn’t planning on it, but as I was in Bolivie (which is pretty close) I decided to go just for a week. And that was a great week for tasting meat and drinking wine.

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    • That’s awesome Monika that the allure of the meat and wine took you to Argentina from Bolivia. It sounds like you enjoyed yourself. Did you fall in love with any particular cuts of beef? Did you venture out and try the innards? Do let us know. Cheers!

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  27. Oh yes, I do indeed love me a good BBQ, the food always tastes so dang tasty when cooked this way too. I am not much of a BBQer in the winter, but during the warmer months, pretty much all my meals are prepared outside on the barbie! YUM! How good are vegetables cooked over a wood fire… Yum! I am drooling just thinking about it. Also loving your chimichurri sauce idea, what a lovely addition. Bring on the summer! 🙂

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    • Thanks Anna for your comments. There is something about cooking outdoors that just seems to make everything taste that much better. The chimichurri sauce is delicious, give it a shot, you will be amazed at how much it adds to more than just beef. Pin this for the Summer and let us know what what you end up grilling! Cheers

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  28. Fantastic tips! I’m with you on everything except the offal. I’ll pass this on to my husband as he always considers himself the King of the BBQ!

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    • Thanks Nadia, surprisingly enough, we enjoyed the offal in Argentina. There is just something about the grilling and the smell that will tempt you. Don’t write it off yet. Yes, please share this post with your husband, he may enjoy reading it as well. Thanks for your comments.

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  29. Such a process! Here in California we throw, almost literally, things on the grill and think that’s grand. This sounds wonderful and I love how the grills keep the oils from flaming up and the slow cooking. I’m not a huge red meat eater but when I finally make it to Argentina that won’t be the case!!

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    • You are so right Elaine, there is really a difference between how we grill in the U.S. vs in Argentina. We were blown away by the ritual of grilling and ceremony around it. When you do get to Argentina, you will taste the difference and probably eat more red meat 🙂 Do let us know when you get to Argentina. Cheers!

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    • Great Tandy, looking forward to your story soon. You are right, there are many countries that are famous for their grilling, including South Africa, however, each one does have their own unique twist. Can’t wait for your story. Cheers!

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  30. so many great tips! I’ve never heard of crusting the meat!! I love the idea of not letting the flame touch it and having more than one meat. I can’t wait to have a grill again!

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    • That’s wonderful Angela that you learned a few tips. The crusting idea is interesting and it really does make a difference to the taste. Please do let us know what else you will add to your grill. Thanks for your comments.

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  31. It all sounds absolutely wonderful!! We do all our cooking over a fire at medieval events, so I’m going to try some of the tips you’ve offered here. 🙂 And I must make chimichurri sauce asap. 🙂

    Reply

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