Inspired by his South American “barbecue” research trip, Jim ‘N... executive chef Drew Robinson shares his take on an asado...

Inspired by his South American “barbecue” research trip, Jim ‘N Nick’s
executive chef Drew Robinson shares his take on an asado feast
at a Sullivan’s Island cookout
| Charleston
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“The South American asado, much like the
American Southern barbecue, can either
refer to the event or the techniques of cooking
over fire.”—Drew Robinson
he sangria is cold.
The grill is hot. Ditto
the weather, but
that isn’t bothering
the group gathered
oceanfront at this
Sullivan’s Island home. There’s a blessed
Atlantic breeze cooling the terrace where
Doug and Pam Van Scoy have invited their Jim
‘N Nick’s associates to join a few friends for a
little alfresco dining—and a big surprise.
A local partner with Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q,
Doug cooked up this special event. He’d
heard all about the December asado trip
to Uruguay that company owner Nick
Pihakis orchestrated for the Fatback Collective, a self-described crew of like-minded
“chefs, pitmasters, culturalists, and eaters
committed to porkfection.” Jim ‘N Nick’s
executive chef Drew Robinson came up
from Birmingham to show the Van Scoys
what he and his Fatback compadres had
learned about the South American style of
barbecue. With some backup from John
Haire, Jim ‘N Nick’s local store owner for
Charleston and Bluffton, this culinary team
is throwing an asado, Southern-style.
Jim ‘N Nick’s executive chef Drew Robinson and local store owner John Haire work the
grill, readying a lineup of meats cooked in the South American asado style.
Hosts Doug and Pam Van Scoy relax and
enjoy some sangria on the porch while the
Jim ‘N Nick’s team prepares the feast to come.
| Charleston
“The South American asado, much like
the American Southern barbecue, can either
refer to the event or the techniques of
cooking over fire,” explains Drew.“As events,
both have traditions of casual camaraderie,
where folks linger around roasting meat,
sipping some spirits, sharing good food,
and making good memories.”
It’s the technique and timing that make
the difference. “While both cultures use
outdoor fire pits with the wood burned
down to coals, the asado uses a hotter
fire and a faster cooking time, putting
the meat either on a grill or directly over
the coals,” he says. Additionally, as with
the potatoes, onions, and carrots in this
menu, the asado technique for cooking
vegetables often calls for burying them
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Whisk vinegar and Dijon mustard together
in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Toss tomato slices with about three or
four tablespoons of the vinaigrette and
season with salt and pepper. Combine
butter beans, cucumber, and cut onion in
another bowl. Toss with about four tablespoons of vinaigrette and season with salt
and pepper.
Place tomatoes on a serving platter.
Spoon butter beans, cucumber, and onion
over the tomatoes. Toss greens with as
much of the remaining vinaigrette as you
desire and scatter around the platter. Garnish with pieces of bacon. Drizzle herb
dressing over everything, to taste.
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Barbecue Pork Tacos
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Find the sangria recipe, which includes
fresh peach purée, chardonnay, and
Southern Comfort at
farm sustainability. “In Uruguay, it is pretty
typical for an asado to be what we would
think of as a mixed grill, with a wide variety
of meat,” says Drew.“For this party, we want
to make sure that the guests get the feel of
an asado with diverse offerings but with a
balance of leaner and richer cuts.”
Drew makes a piquant chimichurri and
a grilled tomato and onion salsa as accompaniments, taking the place of barbecue’s
traditionally thicker, sweeter meat sauces.
Vegetables cooked rescoldo-style (i.e. in the
cinders of the fire) include potatoes, carrots,
sweet onions, eggplants, and red peppers,
finished just before serving with a drizzle
* Find recipes
in the coals, exposing them, as with the
meats, to a much more intense heat.
The accompaniments differ as well. “The
South Americans’ use of fresh herbs, oils, and
acidity is a great complement to fire-roasted
meats and a nice alternative to a typical
Southern barbecue sauce,” says Drew. “Their
herb sauces, such as chimichurri, also pair
particularly well with leaner, grass-fed meats.”
For this evening’s asado, Drew selected
chicken and rib eye from Georgia’s White
Oak Pasture’s pastured poultry and grass-fed
beef, as well as pork rack and sausages from
the heritage breed cross of Berkshire and
Mangalitsa that Nick is developing for small-
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of the chimichurri and creamy tart crumbles of goat cheese.Then, to make sure that
this asado has a real Southern twist, Drew
adds a locally sourced first course: summer tomato salad. Starting with multicolor
heirlooms at their peak, he layers on light
greens, baby butter beans, and just enough
thick-cut, diced smoked bacon to tease the
taste buds for the meats to come.
With the main course sizzling over
the coals, Drew and John trade time on
the grill to work on the appetizers. Their
picks? Barbecue pork tacos, queso spiked
with pico de gallo for an extra kick, and
grilled vegetable quesadillas. Add icy-cold
beers, white wine, and the restaurant’s
refreshing sangria, and there’s plenty to
keep guests happy poolside.
Still, everyone’s quick to gather round
when the Van Scoys call them to the table.
As heaping platters of the smoky meats and
vegetables—and even a grilled dessert—
arrive, they savor the delicious cross-cultural
surprise. Drew and John have not disappointed, delivering a Southern asado that
won’t soon be forgotten.
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(Makes 8)
8 small flour tortillas
1 lb. pulled barbecued pork, warm
1/2 cup coleslaw (find recipe at
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, warm
8 wedges of lime
Cilantro sprigs
Warm tortillas either by toasting them briefly
on a griddle or wrapping them in foil and
placing them in a 350°F oven for four or
five minutes. Place tortillas on individual
plates or lay them out on a platter and
divide pork evenly among them. Divide the
coleslaw evenly over the pork. Drizzle
barbecue sauce over slaw. Garnish each
taco with a wedge of lime and a fresh sprig
of cilantro. Serve warm.
Summer Tomato Salad
(Serves 8)
6 oz. slab bacon, sliced thick into one inch dice
5 tomatoes, preferably heirloom varieties
1 Kirby cucumber
1/2 small Vidalia onion
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar,
such as grenache
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
8 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked butter beans or field peas, such as zipper, crowder, or pink eye
Two or three small bunches of greens, such as arugula, mizuna, watercress, and frisée, washed and patted dry
Herb dressing (recipe follows)
Place bacon in a cast-iron skillet large
enough to hold it in one layer. Cook over
medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until
the fat is released and the pieces of bacon
are almost, but not quite, crispy. Remove to
a paper towel and discard fat.
Core tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch slices.
Cut cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop
the seeds out with a small spoon. Cut into
1/8-inch slices. Cut onion in half. Cut one
half into matchstick-long 1/8-inch slices.
For the herb dressing:
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. sliced chives
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crush garlic into a paste using a mortar and
pestle or the back of a knife on a cutting
board. Place garlic in a small bowl and stir
in mayonnaise. Whisk in buttermilk until
smooth. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and
herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Cover
and refrigerate for up to two days.
Grilled Chicken
(Serves 8)
Note: When serving chicken to a group,
especially when other meats are involved,
plan on one whole bird for four people.
Have your butcher split the bird and take
the backbone out.
2 whole chickens split,
backbones removed
1/4 cup kosher salt, plus more for
2 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 Tbs. paprika
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1 Tbs. cracked black pepper
Place chickens skin-side up on a rimmed
baking sheet lined with paper towels.
Season skin lightly with salt and refrigerate
overnight.This will pull moisture out of the
skin and dry it out, resulting in a crispier
skin when grilled.
About one hour before cooking, prepare
a charcoal fire in grill to a medium-hot level.
The temperature of the closed grill should
read about 350°F.
Combine salt, sugar, paprika, and pepper
in a small mixing bowl and blend thoroughly.
Season both the bone and skin sides evenly
with the seasoning blend.
Place chickens, skin-side down, directly
over the coals. Close the lid and cook for 15
minutes. Flip chickens, close lid, and grill for
15 more minutes. Insert a meat thermometer in a thigh of each. If chickens have not
reached an internal temperature of 160°F,
continue to cook them in the covered grill,
turning occasionally until they do. Remove
chicken from grill and allow to rest for at
least 15 to 20 minutes before cutting.
When ready to serve, remove the thighs
and legs from the breasts. Cut through the
joint between the legs and thighs. Slice
the wings away from the breasts. Place the
chicken on a large platter by itself or with
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other grilled meats and serve immediately.
Grilled Pork Rack
(Serves 8)
Note: Purchase as many bones on the rack
as you have guests. If possible, purchase
pasture-raised, heritage breed pork such as
1 gal. cold water, divided
1/2 cup kosher salt,
plus more for seasoning
3/4 cup light brown sugar
4 bay leaves
10 sprigs fresh thyme
12 whole black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Black pepper, to taste
Whole, center-cut, bone-in pork rack
Place half of the water in a large pot with
1/2 cup salt, sugar, bay leaves, thyme,
peppercorns, cloves, and garlic over high
heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat
and stir well to dissolve salt and sugar. Add
remaining water to begin cooling the brine.
Refrigerate to cool completely before
adding it to the meat.
Place pork rack in a container deep
enough for brine to cover meat and pour the
cold brine over it. Make sure the rack is submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Remove pork rack from the brine and
pat dry with a kitchen towel. Season with
salt and black pepper.
About one hour before cooking, prepare
a hot charcoal fire in the grill. Once the fire
has burned down, shovel the coals to one
side of the grill. Close lid until the temperature reads about 350°F.
Place the pork, flesh-side down, on the
side of the grill with no coals. Close lid
and cook for 20 minutes. Turn rack and
cover the grill. After 15 more minutes, insert a meat thermometer, keeping it off of
the bone. If the pork has not reached an
internal temperature of 135°F, continue
to cook in a covered grill, turning occasionally, until it does. Remove pork from
the grill and allow it to rest for at least 30
minutes before slicing. While resting, the
pork will continue to rise in temperature
and reach a nice medium doneness.
When ready, the pork rack can be sliced
into single bone chops and served individually or on platters family style with other
grilled meats.
Grilled Rib Eye
(Serves 8)
Note: Purchase rib eye from your butcher
in whole sections rather than individual
steaks. When serving in a mixed grill
fashion on platters, plan on approximately
six ounces of raw weight per person.
When possible, purchase pasture-raised,
grass-fed beef.
3-lb. section of trimmed rib loin
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
Season rib eye section liberally with salt
and pepper about one hour before you are
ready to cook it and allow to stand at room
temperature. (This will help the meat come
up to temperature and cook more evenly
over your fire.)
About one hour before cooking, prepare a hot charcoal fire in the grill to a
medium-hot level. When ready to grill,
the temperature of the closed grill should
read about 350°F.
Place rib eye fat-side down directly
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Rescoldo-style Vegetables
(Serves 8)
1 box kosher salt
2 lbs. small potatoes, such as creamers or fingerlings, scrubbed but not peeled
3 bunches baby carrots, scrubbed but not peeled
3 eggplants
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John Haire
assists, piling
embers on the
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(Makes 4 cups)
10 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup finely chopped fresh oregano
1 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Place first four ingredients in a bowl. Add
red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and vinegar.
Whisk in olive oil and season to taste with
salt. Serve as a sauce with grilled meats.
Note: Tightly covered, the chimichurri
can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
After that the fresh herbs will have lost
their vibrancy.
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3 sweet yellow onions
3 red bell peppers
Chimichurri (recipe above)
6 oz. fresh goat cheese
Fill the bottom of a large cast-iron skillet
with kosher salt and arrange potatoes in
a single layer on top. Cover potatoes completely with another layer of salt. Repeat
process with carrots in another large castiron skillet. Place each skillet directly on
the fire embers and then shovel more
embers directly on top of the salt crust.
Allow carrots to cook for about 20 minutes
and potatoes for about 45. To check for
doneness, push through the salt crust with
a sharp knife. If the knife pierces the potatoes or carrots easily, they are ready.
Brush coals off of the salt crust and
remove skillets from the fire. Place the skillets onto a heat-resistant surface where you
can break the salt crust and remove the vegetables. When cool enough to handle, wipe
off excess salt with a dry kitchen towel.
Leave eggplant, onions, and peppers
whole. Place them directly in the embers
and cover completely with more embers.
After 10 minutes, brush the embers away
and check the tenderness of the vegetables but do not pierce them. If still a little firm, turn them, cover with embers,
and cook for another five to 10 minutes.
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over coals. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. If the fire starts to flare up, move
the beef to a cooler part of the fire. After
15 minutes, turn meat and cover the grill
again. After 15 more minutes, insert a meat
thermometer. If the beef has not reached
an internal temperature of 130°F, continue
to cook, covered, turning occasionally, until
it does. Remove from the grill and allow to
rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
While resting, the beef will continue to rise
in temperature and reach a nice mediumrare doneness.
The rib eye can be sliced into steaks as
a prime rib or, if serving with other meats,
sliced into thin 1/2-inch pieces and served
on a large platter family style.
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When the vegetables are done, brush the
embers away and carefully remove vegetables from the coals so that you don’t
tear them. Set aside and allow to cool
enough that you can handle them. Once
cool, remove charred skins and seeds
from the peppers. Tear vegetables into
two-inch strips.
Arrange potatoes, carrots, and vegetable
strips on a serving platter. Drizzle with several spoonfuls of chimichurri. Crumble goat
cheese over the top right before serving.
Strawberry Cobbler
(Serves 8)
2 cups, plus 2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 cups water
1 cup fresh lemon juice
12 cups quartered strawberries
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. iodized salt
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
1 cup heavy cream
8 (5 x 5-inch) cast-iron pans, buttered
Prepare a hot fire (or preheat oven to
Whisk two cups sugar, cornstarch, water,
and lemon juice together in a stainless
steel heavy-bottomed pot. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a boil over
medium-high heat and add strawberries.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about
15 minutes to break down the fruit and
thicken the mixture. The filling should
be thick and reduced. Add pepper and
lemon zest and mix thoroughly.
While filling is simmering, sift together
flour, two tablespoons sugar, baking
powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or
two knives, cut the butter into the flour
mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
With a fork, stir in the cream until all of
the dry ingredients come together.
Divide filling evenly among the pans.
Divide the topping evenly into eight portions and crumble over the filling in each
pan. Place pans on a grate over the hot fire,
but to the side of the hottest part of the fire
(or in oven), close grill, and bake for about
25 minutes, or until the filling is thick and
the topping is golden brown.
Allow cobblers to rest and cool for a few
minutes. Serve with whipped cream.
Tips from the chef
n While the team brought in a Jim ‘N
Nick’s heavy-duty grill for this feast, Drew
says a couple of the largest Weber kettle
grills would work just as well. Be sure to
use a chimney starter to keep coals going
to feed the fire. n About one hour before
cooking the meats, build a hot wood fire
(the chef prefers hickory) in the grill.
Allow fire to catch completely and burn
to a medium-hot level. When ready to
grill, add a few more coals if the fire has
died down. The temperature of the closed
grill for all of the meat recipes should
read about 350°F. n All of the items can
be cooked in a two-hour window. Drew
recommends the following order:
1. Vegetables for the relish and tomato
salsa: cook first or even a day ahead.
2. Meats: grill rib eye. Midway through,
add pork rack. (Both will need to rest a
minimum of 30 minutes but can be held
warm for up to an hour.) Cook chickens
and sausages last.
3. Rescoldo-style vegetables: use the
second grill. Start with the salt-crusted
vegetables that need to be buried. Follow
with eggplant, onion, and peppers.
4. Cobblers
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