If it were not for travel guides, acquaintances, or menu translations, I wonder how many first time visitors to Argentina would bypass bife de chorizo thinking it to be some sort of Argentinean sausage version of the hamburger steak. Instead, moving on to other unfamiliar names that for some reason scream beef of which Argentina is famous for and what these visitors want to devour. However, that is not the case and this juicy steak is probably one of the most popular requested parrilla items by visitors and locals alike off of many menus throughout Argentina.
So where did the chorizo part come from? Well, one story offers that the whole cut–where the steaks come from– resembles a chorizo due to its somewhat cylindrical round shape. Any truth to that? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
Like lomo(tenderloin) and ojo de bife/bife ancho (rib-eye cuts), bife de chorizo is one of the cuts of meat that is similarly cut the same elsewhere around the world as in Argentina. It is the same cut as what you may know as top loin, sirloin steak, strip steak, N.Y. strip, and a few others that I can’t think of off the top of my head. The steak of steaks. They are just meant for the grill. Rich, meaty, juicy, and you need a steak knife to cut through it. Because of all this, bife de chorizo acts as a great litmus test for those who care to sample and compare Argentinean beef to the beef they consume in their own locale.
(2 2-inch(5cm) thick bifes, about 1lb(.5 kilos) each)
As I mentioned above, there is hardly any difference between bife de chorizo and what are known as sirloin strip or top loin steaks in other parts of the world–if any, it boils down to the trimming of surrounding fat and sinew. Typically bife de chorizos are not as well trimmed, however that is not written in stone. It all depends on what’s popular in your area or what mood the butcher is in.
Avoid those little thin skimpy steaks that come in a plastic-wrapped styrofoam tray–well unless they are really thick. Go to the meat counter or a butcher and ask for at least 2-2.5″ (5-6cm) thick cuts. Come on don’t be cheap, you are trying to replicate those gargantuan bife de chorizos you find in parrilla restaurants. Also, by going to the butcher you can most likely have them leave on a decent layer of that fat on one side.
If you are familiar with grilling steaks you should have no problem here. Unlike many other parrilla meats that need to be cooked nice and slow, bife de chorizos are cooked fast or slow depending on personal preference. Toss them over a hot fire to quickly achieve a rich juicy rare steak with some nice looking grill marks on the outside. Cook slowly over a medium fire to produce a tender medium-done steak with a deep brown somewhat crunchy exterior–although you can also do a near rare steak with this method as well. Just follow the thumb test that I mentioned in the tri-tip post for the level of doneness.
Note:Boneless is the most popular in Argentina but bone-in is offered as well at times.