Buenos Aires Basics

Buenos Aires Basics: Meat

BA Basics

By | October 2, 2009 | 6 comments

Beef is king in Buenos Aires. Traditionally, Argentineans cook their beef, slow and steady over a parrilla (pa-REE-sha, or grill). The unique feature of the Argentine parrilla is the manner in which the meats are cooked. Rather than using ready-made charcoal, asadores (grillmasters) cook their meats over hot coals pulled directly from piles of burning wood. The word asado (ah-SA-doh) not only refers to a large home BBQ prepared for large groups of friends, but also to a cut of meat that the Argentineans serve.

There are 3 ways to order your beef:
Jugoso (who-GO-so): Medium-rare, or juicy; red center, pink
A punto (a-POON-toe): Medium, pink through out
Cocido (co-SEE-doh): Well-done, crisp outside, no pink

When attending an asado or visiting a parrilla-style restaurant, tradition loosely dictates the following:

1st Course: Picada (spread of dried/cured meats and cheeses), served with red wine. This course is more typical to the home asado, and rarely appears along side a parrillada served in a restaurant.
2nd Course: Achuras. During this second course, delectable grilled nibbles appear at the table. The offerings during this course vary according to availability and the chef’s tastes, but may include delicious innards—such as molleja (grilled sweet bread), chinchulin (grilled small intestine) and riñon (grilled kidney)—and almost always include chorizo (grilled sausage) and/or morcilla (blood sausage). Served with French bread and topped with chimichurri (a delicious condiment), many make sandwiches called choripán or morcipan from these tasty sausages.
3rd Course: Carne. Like the second course, the offerings selected for this third course vary. The third course is commonly served with papas fritas (french fries) and ensalada (salad, often a simple bowl of sliced tomatoes), and will include a selection of the following: one or several types of steak, like bife de chorizo (NY strip), vacio (flank steak), entraña (skirt steak), lechon (pork), pollo (chicken), or asado (beef ribs).

Here’s a quick guide to parrilla vocabulary:

English Español Pronunciation
Barbecue Asado ah-SAH-doh
Blood sausage Morcilla more-SEE-sha
Chicken Pollo POY-show
Chop Chuleta Choo-LAY-tah
Skirt steak Entraña en-TRAH-nya
Flank steak Vacio vah-SEE-oh
Intestine Chinchulín cheen-CHOO-leen
Kid (Goat) Chivito Chee-vee-toh
Kidneys Riñones rin-YON-ays
Lamb Cordero cor-DER-oh
Liver Hígado ee-GAH-doh
Pork Cerdo SER-doh
Rabbit Conejo cone-AYE-hoe
Rack of ribs Tira de asado TEE-rah day ah-SAH-doh
Rib steak Bife de costilla BEE-fay day koh-STEE-sha
Sausage sandwich Choripán cho-REE-pahn
Sirloin steak Bife de chorizo BEE-fay day chor-EE-zoh
Suckling pig Lechón lay-CHON
Sweetbread Molleja moe-SHAY-ha
Tenderloin Bife de lomo BEE-fay day LOW-moe
Tripe Mondongo mohn-DOHN-go
Traditional condiment Chimichurri chee-mee-CHOO-ree
Veal Ternera ter-NER-ah
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  1. MattyC

    30/08/2009 - 10:29 pm

    You aren't the first to misspell "parrilla", and you won't be the last. Other than that, this is a good primer.

    PS It's "chimichurRi"
    PPS It's "choripán"

  2. @LandingPadBA

    31/08/2009 - 4:15 pm

    Thanks for pointing these out Matty, they have now been corrected.

    1. Constance

      26/10/2009 - 4:34 pm

      Thank you for this excellent guide. I have been searching the web for a list of comprehensive pronunciations of menu items. Now, I just need to find one for vegetables & fruit. 😉

  3. Pingback: Orgullo y Prejuicio « La Vida de la Mariposa

  4. Patrick

    26/06/2012 - 4:07 am

    Here is a more correct stressing of following words:
    By the way, Spanish has a unique system of indicating which syllable of each polysyllabic word has to be stressed. Exceptions to the rules are generally indicated with an acute accent.

  5. CynthiaVS

    06/12/2012 - 11:24 pm

    I’m a porteña and I enjoy reading this articles as I enjoy learning different perspectives and how some “normal” things for us are strange to tourists.

    I decided to comment here because I’ve read on several articles that chimichurri is mentioned but not once I’ve seen that the other main condiment “salsa criolla” is mentioned. If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to do so. It is specially great to eat with “asado de tira”. Salsa criolla is an old classic, home made sauce/condiment made from raw onions, tomatoes, red peppers, oregano and olive oil (note: the veggies are sliced in very, very small cubes and it should be prepared 1 day prior to eating as to taste better).

    Additionally, I noticed that MattyC made a correction that it is wrong: it’s Chimichurri, with double RR http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimichurri
    Also, if you have only tried bottled chimichurri, then you need to ask for an Argentinean to prepare you a home-made one, as the bottled ones are quite bad, specially in comparison to the home-made ones.

    Finally, since we are talking about meat, I highly recommend you trying super slim asado de tira… There are two kind of asado de tira lovers, those who like it slim (half an inch high) and those ho like it fat (2 or more inches high). This is the same as with pizza (al molde or a la piedra). Personally, I’ve always considered that the slim one tastes better.