Most people know churrasco as a grilled thick cut of beef, very popular in Brazil, where they have specialty restaurants called churasqueiras, as well as in Argentina and Uruguay where churrascos are part of the popular asados or parrilladas. Ecuadorian churrasco is sort of the poorer cousin of the Brazilian, Argentinean and Uruguayan churrasco. It is made with a thin cut of steak, and it actually refers to an entire plate of food: a grilled, or sometimes fried with onions and peppers, steak topped with a fried egg served with rice, French fries, ripe plantains, a small salad, avocado slices and hot sauce.
Most restaurants that serve national or traditional Ecuadorian food will have a version of churrasco on their menu. It is a pretty big plate of food, which is typical of an Ecuadorian almuerzo or lunch – consisting of a soup as a first course, large plate of rice with meat, small salad, sides like yuca or cassava, potatoes, and plantains as a second course, and a small dessert or fruit as a final course. An almuerzo is a lot of food, you can ask for just the soup or just the second course if you feel it is too much. Even just the churrasco plate is a good amount of food with double carbs and double protein, I try to make on those days when we really deserve it (i.e. after hiking the whole day). I like the way it allows you to combine flavors, a bite of egg and meat with some avocado or a bite of meat and potato with some pickled onion. It’s also a good plate for kids because it gives them a lot of different options, even a picky kid will find something to eat on a churrasco plate.
Churrasco plate components:
Grilled or sauteed/fried steaks (recipe below)
Tomato and onion curtido salsa or a small salad
Ecuadorian churrasco is a traditional dish made with steaks, grilled , or sometimes fried in an onion and pepper sauce, topped with a fried egg and served with rice, fries, plantains and salad.
- 2 lb thin beef steaks - skirts, flank or hanger type steaks are a good choice, for a higher end version of this dish you can also use sirloin, ribeye or tenderloin steaks
- 8-12 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbs ground cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Ecuadorian style rice, fried egg, homemade fries, fried ripe plantains, tomato and onion curtido salad with cucumbers and lettuce, avocado slices, and aji criollo or hot sauce.
- Mix the crushed garlic, cumin, salt and pepper together to make a marinade for the meat.
- Rub the garlic cumin marinade on the thin steaks and let marinate for a couple of hours.
- Grill or fry the steaks over high heat to desired doneness; since they are relatively thin they won’t take too long to cook.
- Serve the steaks with a crispy fried egg or two on top and accompanied by rice, homemade fries, fried ripe plantains, tomato and onion curtido, lettuce, cucumber slices, avocado slices and aji criollo.