Recipe for spareribs asado (and why the process is equally important as the end result)
I would like to share a recipe with you, of something I made in my outdoor kitchen recently. Well, actually it is not so much a recipe as it is a technique. It’s basically about grabbing a piece of meat that requires long-term preparation and good fat marrowing. I would choose local free-range or organic. Then you will need a bonfire and some sticks from the forest, the size depends on the size of your roast. You will need to make a chimichurri from whatever you think is good – I used parsley, garlic, white pepper, olive oil, water and lots of salt. But you can use other tasty herbs and spices if you prefer.
Recently I have been rambling on over at Instagram about how I use bonfires as my own kind of therapy. But actually – apart from for relaxation I also use the bonfire as one of my most important cooking tools. I cook over an open fire, either outside or inside at one of our open fireplaces, as often as I can. At the moment almost every day. I have built our outdoor kitchen of things we had laying around, and an old bonfire tray is today my favourite “stove”. I cook anything on it, vegetables, meat, sauces, you name it.
The other day, for instance, I bought two pieces of organic spareribs, and slow-cooked them Argentinian asado style over the fire until tender, juicy and wonderfully delicious with a smoky flavour and a crisp crust. In addition to giving me the opportunity to spend most of an afternoon in front of the fire, one of the cool things about this dish is all the things that need to be gathered and cut from the woods. We are so fortunate to have a forest right next to where we live, so I went out to get six sticks, four of which I used to make a kind of huge “fork”, and two y-shaped branches that I used to hold the fork. Then I made a chimichurri marinade and a “magic stick” out of a branch, a string and some laurel and rosemary that our friends Aleks and Simona brought us when they recently came to visit from Slovenia.
Then I waited patiently for around 5 hours – while sipping most of a whole beautiful bottle of wine that Aleks and Simona made and also left us, the buzz making me even more proud of my project. During those five hours I would now and the raise from my throne like an Amazonian king, sloppily applying the chimichurri to the roast with my “magic stick”. When my wife would ask if I had things under control, I would firmly assure her that yes I had. Which admittedly I weren’t 100 % sure of. But the result turned out AMAZING, and the insecurity of the end result, I think, is only a part of what makes cooking over fire so magical.
I warn you – this is not easy-to-make everyday food. But that’s exactly what I love about it, because in my world, the best food is that which takes a long time to prepare, and I really think the process is equally important as the end result. Which actually applies to many, well basically all, things in life.
Here’s the recipe for my spareribs asado:
A steak, for example, organic spareribs
A bunch of rosemary twigs
A bunch of laurel twigs
A bunch of parsley
A whole garlic
A tablespoon of white pepper
2 dl olive oil
½ liter of water
Lots of salt
4 straight branches – one tall and three smaller
2 y-shaped branches
Lace and metal wire
Wood for your fire
How to do it
Light your fire.
Go out in the woods and find four fresh sticks. Remove the bark (mostly for hygienic reasons). Place three smaller sticks across one longer to a kind of giant fork.
Tie your piece of meat firmly to the “fork” with metal wire.
Now stick the “fork” and y-shaped branches down into the ground so the roast can lean over the flames from your bonfire. The rule of thumb is that you should be able to keep your hand in front of the meat for 15 seconds – if you can keep it for a longer time, the meat is too far away. Now leave it to hang and cook for 5-6 hours.
Make a “magic wand” by tying rosemary and laurel to a stick.
Make your chimichurri – give it a go with your own version containing your preferred herbs and spices, or use mine: Blend parsley, garlic, white pepper, olive oil, water and plenty of salt together.
Now you have to be patient, because your spareribs must now be roasted slowly over the fire for about 5 hours. Meanwhile, you can appropriately sip some kind of alcoholic drink while you occasionally raise yourself from your throne and bless your work like another Amazon chief by dipping the magic wand in the chimichurri and slashing it onto the meat. All this while firmly insisting to your spouse that everything is just right.
When the spareribs are done, first remove them from the stick by cutting the wire, and serve them with whatever vegetables you have. These you can grill on the fire for a few minutes if you wish. I threw a 10-12 potatoes into the embers, and let them stay there until they were tender.
I hope my asado will inspire you to cook more over fire, and if so, please let me know how it goes over on Instagram.