My new favorite cookbook is Seven Fires, which has gorgeous photos and great techniques. The author is a famous US/Argentinian chef named Francis Mallmann and he writes, “I believe that the ability to cook meat over a wood fire is inborn in all of us.” Another favorite is Canal House Cooking, written by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, who own a food studio called Canal House, in Lambertville, New Jersey. This is as unassuming as Seven Fires is overreaching.  I loved this book and recommend you add it to your collection.  It is filled with great Argentine recipes and photographs.  I liked it even more after watching a cooking show, which featured Mallmann in his rustic home/restaurant in Argentina, cooking these recipes for friends, neighbors and a very few paying guests, from the likes of the extremely small town he lives in.  This book is the real deal and is endorsed by our Argentine friends who even commented that it is the “only true book on the Argentine asado style of cooking” and it features it is a very simple, yet romantic and tasty way.  We love it!
Mallmann describes la parrilla, the cast iron barbecue grate, and the la chapa which is a flat piece of cast iron over a fire, but a cast iron skillet will also do in a pinch.  Asador is a method for cooking whole animals, pig, lamb or goat, which are butterflied and hooked to an iron cross.  Every estancia has a caldero, a big iron pot, for feeding large groups on the ranch, including the gauchos out on the vast pampas.

Mallmann subscribes to the only turn it once method of grilling.  Don’t flip it too much.  Not sure I agree with him here.
But it is hard to argue with this, “For many families, including my own, the asado is often the weekend’s main event, it begins with a morning pilgrimage t the butcher shop to choose the impressive quantities and varieties of meat, continues with building the fire and waiting for the coals to be just right, and it reaches critical mass when the food goes on the grill, the wine is poured, and the fire hisses and snaps.”  But you can’t argue with his recommendation for a standing rib roast, pounds of sirloin trip-tip roast, short ribs, fresh sausages, sweetbreads, potatoes, onions and peppers.

Try our favorite recipes from South of the Border.