Give Your Venison and Boar Barbecue some South American-Style Parrilla Love - Sabor!
Updated: Feb 24
A 2018 wingshooting trip to Uruguay yielded predictably great bird hunting with the bonus of getting to enjoy an abundance of superb meats, much of it cooked over a wood fire. In South American “parrilla” (iron grill) cooking, oak or other hardwood and sometimes fruitwoods are burned in what we call a “feeder” fire. The embers are then collected and pushed or scooped beneath the cooking surface. The chef monitors closely, controlling how much sear and heat is used. The results are delicious, especially when combined with basic South American sauces.
We don’t have a traditional parrilla so we improvised, using a brick barbecue pit. A piece of ¼-inch thick steel was positioned about 18 inches above the oak fire in the hearth. A Camp Chef Lumberjack Over Fire Grill was then placed atop the steel. We shuttled embers from the main fire to the Camp Chef grill, occasionally adding pieces of one-inch diameter apple wood to develop more smoky flavors.
Ingredients (whatever you want to grill)
8-pound front shoulder of wild boar
2.5-pound venison bottom rounds (3) and a couple backstraps.
We used Goya Mojo Criollo marinade, which has bitter orange, lemon, garlic and onion nuances, resting
the meat in this tangy bath overnight in the refrigerator. Add largest cuts to the grill first. Ensure embers are hot enough to get a good sear on the meat, then reduce heat and slow cook until desired temperatures (170 degrees F for the pork and 130 degrees F for the venison). We added a limb of green apple tree to the fire to add additional flavor. Once the meat had a good sear, it was basted twice with chimichurri – once shortly after achieving a complete sear and then about 8 minutes before taking off the grill. Let the meat rest for a few minutes before cutting and serving. Top with (or serve on the side a fresh criollo sauce).
We ate it picnic style. Side dishes included a watermelon, blueberry and blackberry fruit salad, a cole slaw and a caprese salad. A couple longtime venison eaters proclaimed it the finest they’d ever had. While playing tango music isn't essential to the preparation, it does add to the ambiance as you sip some of your favorite beverages and anticipate the incredible feast that's headed for your plate.
Several large cloves of minced garlic
½-cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
¼-cup finely chopped spicy peppers
2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 ½ cups olive oil
¼-cup red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a jar and shake. Let stand for an hour or two. Note – if substituting dried herbs, use about half of the recipe amount and hydrate in a little warm water for a few minutes before adding.
2 cups diced mixed colors sweet bell peppers
1-cup diced onion
1-cup diced tomatoes
½-cup red wine vinegar
½-cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Mix in a jar and let stand for at least ½ hour. Can make several days ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator. Serve as a sauce/side with the grilled meat. It’s almost akin to a chutney.
Sauce Notes: Our sauces are adaptations of ones used by Edward Cardona, executive chef at Uruguay Lodge and a recipe in book called “Feasting on Wild Birds,” by Mercedes de Castro, our hostess at the lodge. Both chimichurri and criollo can be made a few days in advance and stored in refrigerator. If refrigerated, let both get to room temperature to liquefy the oil before using. See related parrilla-style cooking blog with video here.