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Lifestyle : Taste of South America Special Report
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SPECIAL REPORT IF YOU'RE PLANNING TO HOLD a South American-themed barbecue, and not all the guests are from South America, it's a good idea to issue a general warning: don't scoff everything in the first hour. This happened when food writer Rachael Lane invited her friends over to research her book South American Grill. ''Even though Australian barbecues are all day, the food generally comes out all at once and we sit down and eat it,'' Lane says. ''The South American style is more of an all-day feast that starts off slow and you can taste all these different things without getting too overwhelmed or too full. The Aussies binged at the beginning!'' After devouring the starters, including cancha (toasted corn snack), grilled provolone with oregano and chilli, picanha (rump cap) and salsa, they could only look on helplessly as a procession of dishes emerged for the next six hours. Three desserts, including a giant Brazilian creme caramel, delivered the coup de grace. Still, Lane says her Brazilian, Argentine and Venezuelan guests got a kick out of seeing everyone enjoy the food, and were keen to share their recipes. ''They were open to showing me the way to make a certain thing -- the way their mother does it -- and there's no other way,'' she says, with a laugh. ''I took the similarities, the foundation stones, chose the tastiest version and put that in the book.'' South American Grill includes recipes from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador and covers appetisers, meats, salads, desserts and cocktails. Barbecueing is the cornerstone of South American cooking. In Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay, the asado is king. A whole animal is splayed on a metal cross and cooked indirectly over hot coals. Smaller cuts are grilled over hot coals, including Argentina's parrillada mixta (mixed grill). Brazilians favour the churrasco, skewers of meat turned on a rotisserie. ''The whole idea of churrasco and asado came from cattle herders moving across the land,'' Lane says. ''At night-time they built fires, slaughtered a beast and cooked it with salt and herbs they'd collected along the way.'' Lane hopes her recipes, which also work well on a gas barbecue, will inject a bit of carnival atmosphere into summer backyard barbies. ''South Americans have an insatiable hunger and love of family, friends, food and music, and asados and churrascos are as much a part of South American culture as the Aussie barbecue is of ours,'' she says. South American Grill, Hardie Grant, $34.95. Costeletas de porco (pork ribs) Pork ribs are commonly cooked in Brazil. Here they are cooked slowly in foil, keeping them beautifully moist and tender, with crisp crackling the much- desired prize for most pork lovers. They are a great addition to any barbecue and, once marinated, require little more than a single turn on the grill. 2.5kg whole pork ribs Juice of 1 lemon 2 tbsp olive oil 1 small handful oregano leaves, chopped 3 garlic cloves, crushed 2tbspseasalt Vegetable oil, for greasing Lemon wedges, to serve (optional) 1. Remove and discard the thin membrane from the bone side of the ribs. Score the fat, using a sharp knife to make a criss- cross pattern. 2. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, garlic and half of the salt in a bowl. Coat the ribs in the mixture, place on a non-reactive tray, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. 3. Preheat a barbecue chargrill to low- medium. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and rub the remaining salt over the skin. 4. Cut a double layer of foil large enough to wrap the ribs. Wrap the ribs in both layers to completely enclose. Grill the ribs, bone side down, for 11G2 hours. Turn the ribs over and grill for another 45-60 minutes, or until the fat is crisp and golden brown and the meat is tender. Remove from the heat and set the ribs aside to rest for 15 minutes. 5. Just before you are ready to serve, unwrap the meat, transfer to a chopping board and slice between the bones. Squeeze the lemon wedges over before serving, if desired. Serves 6
Sydney Harbour in Spring