Spring forward. The clock races an hour ahead. What was once 5:30am is now somehow magically 6:30am. I find getting up in the dark a rather difficult and uncivilized thing to do, but the day awaits so I slither out of bed and into the shower. I can make myself presentable pretty quickly, but then again I’m a guy, and as a rule our ilk doesn’t spend too much time on this.
It’s practically a controlled fall down the stairs as it’s just too early for any sort of graceful navigation. Smelling the coffee that my wife has started while I was in the shower I begin to come around. I park myself at the breakfast table and look out the sliding glass door. My wife has already opened the curtains and is making me some breakfast while singing “Home on the Range”. What a doll she is. It’s hard to be grumpy with a great woman like that around. Always happy and smiling, even early in the morning.
Out beyond the slider is the Quincho. It’s dark out there, with just a few hints of an orange sunrise in the eastern sky. The birds have started gathering noisily on the feeder and the occasional angry squirrel is scolding somebody somewhere. The Quincho. It’s my pride and joy, my most favorite thing. My retreat, my tree house, my fort. I sneak out the back and feel the cold morning. I can absorb the sounds, smells and sights of the nascent day. I can dream of big asados to come this summer, and reminisce about asados past. This morning I was thinking about achurras – The sausages and variety meats that really define a great asado (at least to me they do). They are always the warm up before the main event, eaten hot right off the parrilla.
Here’s a line up of what sort of achurras you’ll find at my favorite asado.
- Morcilla – Blood Sausage. This stuff is way tastier than it sounds and I can’t believe we don’t eat more of it in the states. The texture is fabulous and the taste is faintly like liver though not overpowering. It takes a hardwood fire well and picks up smoke nicely. Season this with seasoned salt and oregano and grill until its skin is nice and crispy.
- Molleja – Sweetbreads. Not bread and not sweet, but again, a fantastic overlooked variety meat. This is the thalmus gland of the animal. It takes a bit more preparation but it’s well worth it. I clean the membrane off of these and soak them in a mixture of water and red wine vinegar, changing the liquid a couple times. These grill up crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside – pure heaven I tell you.
- Chorizo (and Choripan) – Sausage. Now this is something a stateside grill master can wrap his (or her) head around. The ones you get in Argentina are little fat ones, a lot
like Italian sausages. These are grilled up and shoved in a piece of bread with a little chimichurri. This is what’s called choripan. Bread, sausage, chimichurri – hey what’s not to like?
You’ll also find Kidneys, intestines and even udders and testicles in the mix, but this is getting into the “hard to find” category and although worth a mention, I have my doubts anyone except me and a few ex-pat Argentines would jump on these. If you are the adventurous type you just might be surprised at how versatile and delicious these are when prepared correctly.
I can’t wait until there are some warm days I can depend on, punctuated by lingering asados and good wine with friends and family.