Argentina and its historic love of Beef
Even if you only have a passing knowledge of Argentina then you’ll know they are famous for a couple of things. International land disputes and some of the finest quality beef on the planet.
Argentina and Argentinians absolutely love their beef and consume about 55kg of beef per person, per year. Give and take a few steaks of course but that’s still almost double what North Americans put away and make us here in the UK look positively vegetarian by comparison.
A traditional Argentinian steak restaurant is called a Parilla and their intoxicating aroma hanging thick on every street corner. The preparing, cooking, and eating of beef is so ingrained into the Argentine culture that it is not at all unusual to see workers and store owners setting up makeshift barbecues to lovingly labour over and grill their meat during lunch breaks.
The reverence for quality meat doesn’t end there. Traditionally, on a Sunday, family and friends will gather round to take part in “Asados” which is like a huge BBQ feast with lashes of Malbec and charla.
A good quality piece of beef is a lot more than just dinner in Argentina. It is a source of national pride, a symbol of camaraderie, and a culmination of hundreds of years’ worth of history and culture. If you have not already tried Argentinian beef then get ready for a rollercoaster of flavours.
Where it all began.
Cattle have not always been native to Argentina and were actually introduced relatively recently (from a historical sense). The Spanish Conquistadors brought cattle with them when they landed back in 1536 and, thanks to the fertile land and ideal geography of the Pampas, the cattle multiplied extremely quickly and spread across the country.
The Argentine beef market slowly trickled along within the lush pastures of the country for quite some time but then, if we fast forward to the late 19th century, the scope of the beef trade looks very different.
Railway infrastructure across Argentina and the introduction of refrigerated train cars and ships set a rocket off underneath the beef exports and the flipped seasons between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres meant that Argentine beef came onto the market at a time of year when beef was scarce in the northern countries which only added to its value.
Where it is today.
Argentine beef still enjoys a fantastic reputation for quality and flavour with prime quality Argentinian beef demanding hefty price tags in steak houses and butchers shops the world over.
The price of this sought after meat became so inflated that the Argentine government had to impose sanctions and taxes on exported beef to keep the meat affordable for their own population. With beef being so important to the culture and way of life, having it be made out of reach for the majority of the people would have been disastrous.
It’s not only the geography, the pastures, and the passion of the farmers that makes Argentinian beef so special though, in fact, Argentinas butchers have a completely different approach to beef altogether when compared to us across the pond and this differing approach actually results in a few different cuts of meat being produced.
Argentinean steaks are cut based on texture. For example, where Americans are used to T-bones and porterhouse steaks, in Argentina the tenderloin and New York strip are cut individually.
Of course, the Spanish speaking nation gives these cuts different names as well. In an Argentine steak house, a tenderloin or filet mignon cut would be labelled as a lomo, while the strip is called bife de chorizo (not to be confused with the spicy sausage).
How to cook Argentinian Beef.
In previous “Steak Around The World” articles, we would have given you a little recipe to try but, on this one, because the scope is so wide with so much to choose from, we really couldn’t whittle it down to just a single recipe.
Almost any beef you get from Argentina is going to be fantastic and, with a little bit of prep work, is going to blow any supermarket steak completely out of the water.
For that reason, we’re just going to go into how to cook Argentinian steak, whichever cut you choose, the traditional and most delicious way.
The first thing you want to do is set up your Asado or Argentinian grill.
Throw out that metal cased BBQ you got from the big box store and get your trowel out because an Asado grill is built with bricks and ceramics. These materials contain heat much better than metal and it's this containment and “holding” of all-around heat that allows a steak to cook slowly and evenly instead of just having a single directional heat source searing only the outside of the meat.
The next thing you’ll want to do is wave goodbye to charcoal briquettes and *shudder* propane. An Asado grill is fueled with locally sourced wood which doesn’t burn quite as hot as charcoal and can add a wonderful smoky taste to the meat.
What's key to remember is that Asado grilling is about getting back to basics. If builders on a work site in Argentina can knock up a grill from cinder blocks during their lunch hour then there's really no excuse not to take your precious piece of meat and treat it properly.
Argentinian beef has a reputation for fine-textured meat that is bursting with flavour cut from happy cows that have been well taken care of. This is a reputation that it wholeheartedly deserves and, thanks to modern advances, it has never been easier to test it yourself.
Head over to www.thesteakshop.co.uk where we have a huge range of premium quality Argentinian beef in stock and ready to be delivered directly to your door to give you that quality steakhouse experience from the comfort of your own back garden.