By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
My mini solo parrillada which, once I described the menu, I could induce not a single friend or relation to attend turned out to be quite a party. It was indeed an all-day event, only there were no plump aunties bustling around cutting up carrots for the Russian salad or jolly cousins keeping an eye on the fire. If you plan to try this at home, there are a few things you might want to consider:
Do you have the right stuff to clean and prep a small intestine (chunchulines), which happens to be a foolproof conveyance for the breeding and distribution of the little bacterium we gringos refer to as salmonella?
Can you spare the half gallon of Stoli's you'll need to disinfect your kitchen afterward, when you discover you have no bleach?
Will you be disappointed when said intestines, placed on your dinky, overheated grill, incinerate instantly to dust, like a War of the Worlds character blasted with an alien ray gun?
Are you aware that a fatty piece of meat (matambre) placed over hot coals will create what you might conservatively call a "bonfire"?
As for the bull's balls (criadillas), everything you've heard about their aphrodisiac powers is absolutely false.
"There's a big difference between a real Uruguayan brick parrilla and your grill," Lily's nephew Max told me later. "A parrilla is open in front so you can shovel the embers in and move them around to determine how certain meats should cook, because obviously some will grill faster than others. And you can physically adjust the height of the grate to control temperature. One of the reasons the parrilla is so big is because you're cooking a lot of different things at once. When you grill anything, it's all in the technique."
OK, so my technique needed fine-tuning. But by the time I'd put my T-bone on the grill (it was late evening by then), the coals had finally succumbed, throwing off a manageable heat. I cooked it right (Jorge Sanchez's baritone reverberating in my head), didn't move it until it "bled," then salted it and turned it. That huge steak had cost me $4.95, and it was tender, pure meat poetry when I slathered it with garlicky homemade chimichurri.
I'd walked through fire and come out the other side an honorary if soot-smeared Uruguayan.