Monday, November 12, 2018

Smoked Ribeye Roast, Uruguayan Asado Style

I have a fascination with the country of Uruguay.  The relatively smallish country bordered by Brazil to the north and, across the Rio de la Plata, within sight of Argentina. My fascination as entirely to do with the country's cuisine.

It all began a few years ago with my personal culinary challenge to prepare a main course from Uruguay as part of my Around the World in 80 Dishes challenge.  I made Chivitos al Pan, a sandwich loaded with meat, cheese and eggs. That stands as perhaps my favorite challenge to date. After that time, I have wanted to learn more about the cuisine of Uruguay.

And, this post provides that opportunity.  Uruguayan cuisine is perhaps the most meat centric cuisine in at least the Western hemisphere, if not the world. The country has a population of just little more than 3.4 million people in 2016, but consumes more than 427 million pounds of  meat during that same year.  That is 124 pounds per person that year.  With the average weight of a person around 137 pounds, that means that, on average, an Uruguayan eats as much meat as the average person weighs.  That is quite the feat.

But it is not just about eating meat, it is the grilling of the meat. In many ways it defines Uruguayan cuisine. The chicken, beef, pork and chorizo on the parilla, carefully watched and tended to by the asador. There is nothing like taming the coals and cooking ungodly amounts of meat for an asado. (If I did not have my current job, my dream job would be that of an asador.  Perhaps upon retirement, a move to Uruguay and I could start a second career as an asador, cooking untold amounts of meats while casually sipping one of Uruguay's wines, like a Tannat or a Cabernet Sauvignon.)

It is this tradition of grilling that inspired me to make a ribeye roast over coals.  To be sure, this is not the parilla true style of cooking.  I did not have the arrangement for that.  Instead, I used my smoker, with its grill (and without the liquid bowl) to create a direct charcoal grilling. The one significant difference is that I decided to use some hickory wood to add smoke to the ribeye roast.  

To underscore the Uruguayan inspiration, I prepared a classic Uruguayan chimichurri for this ribeye roast. Like its Argentinian neighbor, this chimichurri is full of fresh parsley, garlic and oregano, mixed with olive oil and vinegar to create what is perhaps the most amazing accompaniment for grilled beef.  The vinegar helps to cut through the fat of the ribeye roast.  The crushed red pepper flakes, along with the freshly ground black pepper and the peppery nature of the oregano, add a slight hint of heat.  These additional layers of flavor create an artistic masterpiece on the canvas that is the beef itself.

I have cooked a lot with ribeye roasts, and some of the recipes have made it on to this blog.  However, this is perhaps my favorite ribeye roast that I have done. Maybe it is the effort to draw inspiration from Uruguayan cuisine.  Maybe it is just that I love beef.  Either way, I am going to make this recipe again. 


SMOKED RIBEYE ROAST, URUGUAYAN ASADO STYLE
Recipe adapted from Saveur
Serves several

Ingredients (for the ribeye roast):
1 ribeye roast (5 to 6 pounds)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Hickory wood chunks

Ingredients (for the Uruguayan chimichurri):
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup finely chopped parsley
3/4 cup finely chopped oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1.  Prepare the roast.  Combine the salt, black pepper, oregano and garlic powder and mix well.  Spray some olive oil over the roast.  Apply the salt and pepper mixture to all sides of the roast.  

2.  Prepare the smoker.  Soak the hickory chunks in water for 1 hour.  Prepare a fire for a 300 degree smoker.  Once the temperature is right, oil the grates and add the roast.  Smoke for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours until the temperature in the roast registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the roast from the smoker and let it rest, covered, for about 15 to 30 minutes. 

3.  Prepare the chimichurri.  Bring 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 cup of water to a boil in a 1 quart saucepan.  Let cool.  Whisk parsley, oregano, chile flakes, oil, vinegar, garlic and pepper in a bowl.  Stir in salt water mixture.  Let chimichurri sit for at least 30 minutes.

4.  Finish the dish.  Slice the ribeye roast and serve immediately with the chimichurri.

ENJOY!

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