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If you didn’t spend your holidays, slightly sunburnt while balancing a paper plate containing potato salad and an indistinguishable lump of charred coal on your knee did you even grow up in Australia?
Family time meant a herd of cousins running wild while a self-appointed BBQ master took control of the flaming grill, tapping his tongs and holding court amongst the fumes of sizzling onions while the meat seared to a crisp.
It’s the stuff of nostalgia, and while the social vibe might have remained the same, these days the coal is staying off the plates, and under the meat thanks to the popularity of a unique style of grilling: Argentinian BBQ.
Argentinian BBQ is simple cooking at it’s finest. The combination of gentle-slow heat and the glorious, smokey flavour bomb provided by the charcoal allow the food to speak for itself.
Unlike the past when the tendency was for Aussies to torch and flame their meat into oblivion, the height adjustable parilla style hotplate means that even the most heavy handed chef can control the action. This low and slow approach helps break down the connective tissues, making the meat more tender.
For meat lovers and vegetarians alike, the rise in popularity of this ancient style of cooking is turning every day families into backyard Masterchefs.
Argentinian BBQ’s featuring a rotisserie and Santa-Maria style grill are changing the way we eat at home.
New adoptees, Bek and Mike Day say that their Argentinian BBQ set-up from Aussie supplier, Pig & Pilgrim is giving them restaurant-quality food at home every night.
“I bought a grill as a birthday gift for my husband,” say Bek. “To say he has become obsessed is an understatement.
“The downside is that he now spends a substantial amount of time staring lovingly into his coals when he could be giving the kids a bath, but the delicious, delicious upside is meat so perfect I feel like I’m eating in a restaurant every time.
“He’s so evangelical about it that friends of ours came over for lunch, tried the steak he cooked and then ordered their own in the car on the drive home.”
WATCH: Check out the Argentinian BBQ in action. Continues after video …
With a hand crank that lifts or lowers the Santa-Maria style grill over the coals to the desired distance from the smokey heat, or a rotisserie option that allows slow, succulent cooking over a longer period of time, backyard BBQs are returning as the social scene they were in our childhoods.
“We started Pig & Pilgrim during the coronavirus lockdown because it felt like a time when people wanted to connect to that grounded feeling of cooking simply, over charcoal, with the people you love,” says founder Charlie Gosselin.
“It’s the most ancient way to cook; people have cooked that way forever. Charcoal is an honest, natural way to cook and of course it tastes like nothing else.”
“What’s great about the Santa-Maria style grill is that you lift and lower the food over the coals using the hand wheel, varying the amount of heat that reaches the meat (or veg or fish),” says Charlie.
“Think of it as the equivalent of the knob on your gas stove – you control the cook completely. It’s designed to make charcoal cooking easy and accessible to everyone – from barbecue experts to total novices.”
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The popularity of this simple way of cooking means that having your own Argentinian BBQ set up at home is easier than ever. From very basic to top of the line setups, Aussie suppliers are jumping on board to bring charcoal cooking into everyone’s life.
For Charlie, simple is best, which is why Pig & Pilgrim is offering a rustic, authentic option, similar to what you’ll find in any Buenos Aires back yard.
“Santa-Maria style grills can be super expensive,” says Charlie’s business partner, Alex. “We wanted to make ours more affordable so everyone can try cooking with char. They’re all handmade by Charlie in Sydney, so they’re not perfectly polished showroom pieces of kit like you might find at a barbecue store, but that’s part of what makes them so special.”