8 mins

Cook up a South American feast

Vegetarians look away now! Rachael Lane, author of new book South American Grill, teaches you how to cook up a meat feast on the BBQ

Cook up a meat feast with these four recipes from South America

1. Mejillones con herbas y ajo

Mussels with garlic and herbs

Due to its long coastline, seafood is abundant in Chile and its use is prevalent, particularly in stews. In this dish, mussels are steamed (enclosed in foil) on the barbecue and topped with a simple combination of herbs and wine allowing their delicate flavour to shine through.

Serves: 4


2kg black mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
2 large handfuls flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
60ml dry white wine
60ml extra-virgin olive oil


1. Preheat a barbecue chargrill or hotplate to medium–high.

2. Cut two double layers of aluminium foil large enough to enclose the mussels in two parcels. Divide the mussels in half and place on the centre of the foil pieces. Sprinkle with the garlic, spring onion and parsley. Drizzle with the white wine and olive oil. Draw up the sides of the foil and fold over the edges to seal and create two airtight packages.

3. Place the wrapped mussels on the chargrill and cook for 10–15 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened. Unwrap the mussels and transfer to a large serving bowl to eat straight away. Serve with crusty bread.

South American BBQ recipes2. Pollo a la brasa

Peruvian rotisserie chicken

Traditionally cooked on a rotisserie over hot coals and served with chips, these chickens are marinated in a garlic herb paste, infusing the meat with flavour. Popular throughout Peru, this dish has been the inspiration behind many a barbecue chicken shop in the West. After making this version, you’ll never go out for chicken again.

Serves: 8


2 x 1.5kg whole free-range chickens
8 garlic cloves, chopped
2cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
125ml white vinegar


1. Rinse the chickens under cold running water, cleaning out the inside cavities. Pat dry, trim any excess fat and tuck in the wings.

2. Combine the garlic, ginger, oregano, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper in a food processor and process to make a smooth paste. Add the vinegar and process to combine.

3. Place the chickens on a non-reactive tray. Coat the chickens in the spice mixture, rubbing it under the skin and inside the cavities. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

4. Preheat a gas barbecue fitted with a rotisserie to 200°C (400°F). All of the burners should be set to medium. Insert the rotisserie rod through the cavities of the chickens and centre them on the rod. Secure the rotisserie according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Turn off the burners directly underneath the chickens, leaving the side burners on medium. Place a drip tray filled with 1 cm (½ inch) water underneath the chickens.

5. Cook the chickens for 1–1¼ hours, or until crisp and golden brown and the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Wearing barbecue mitts, carefully remove the rotisserie rod. Take the chickens off the rod and place on a large tray. Cover with foil and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chickens into quarters or eight pieces, to serve.

South American BBQ recipes3. Costilla de cordero en costra de aceitunas

Lamb rack with black olive crust

The flavours in this delicious lamb rack reflect the strong influence Italian cooking has had on Argentinian cuisine. This dish looks beautiful and will be a well-received addition to any barbecue gathering.

Serves: 4


Olive crust:
150g pitted kalamata olives
2 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and squeezed dry
2 anchovy fillets
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
90g fresh breadcrumbs
60ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1tbsp finely chopped oregano leaves
2 x 600g lamb racks, each with eight bones, French trimmed (ask your butcher to do this)


1. To make the olive crust, place the olives, garlic, capers, anchovy fillets and lemon zest in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, add the breadcrumbs, olive oil, parsley and oregano and stir well to combine; season with freshly ground black pepper.

2. Preheat a gas barbecue with a lid to 200°C (400°F). All the burners should be set to medium. Drizzle the lamb racks with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Grill the racks, meat side down, for 2–4 minutes, turning frequently until brown all over.

3. Transfer the meat to a roasting tray and pack the prepared olive crust over the top of the lamb racks, pressing firmly so that the crust adheres to the meat. Insert a meat thermometer into the centre of the rack. Place the tray in the centre of the grill and turn off the burners directly underneath. Close the lid and cook for 20 minutes for medium–rare, or until the thermometer reads 55°C (131°F).

4. Remove the tray from the barbecue, cover with foil and set aside to rest for 15 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with grilled witlof and tomato, and salt-baked potatoes.

Soth American BBQ recipes4. Hallaquitas

Venezuelan corn parcels

Hallaquitas are the Venezuelan version of the Mexican tamales. They are boiled corn parcels filled with a dough made from dried corn, which is wrapped in dried corn husks.

Hallaquitas are tied twice, once at the top and then in the middle, creating a kind of waist. Curvaceous women in Venezuela are referred to as hallaquitas as their curves resemble the corn parcels. Dried corn husks are available from Latin American food stores.

Serves: makes 24 parcels


40g butter
3 tsp sea salt
30 dried corn husks
550g masarepa (masarepa is a pre-cooked ground corn flour. It can be sourced
from Latin American food stores. It is also called masa harina)
90g grated Parmesan cheese
½ red capsicum, seeded and very finely chopped


1. Put the butter, salt and 870ml water in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter has melted and the salt has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes, to cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, place the corn husks in a medium-sized bowl, cover with hot water and set aside for 15 minutes, to soak. Drain and set aside.

3. Gradually pour the masarepa into the cooled water, stirring to form a dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, add the cheese and capsicum and knead to incorporate. Add a little extra masarepa if the dough is too wet, or a drizzle of water if it is too dry.

4. Divide the dough into 24 equal-sized portions. Shape each portion in an oval-shaped ball.

5. Place a ball of corn dough lengthwise in the centre of a pre-soaked corn husk. Fold up the bottom of the husk and fold in the sides to encase the corn filling. Tear a couple of corn husks into thin strips to use as ties. Tie each parcel twice, once at the top and then in the middle, to create a kind of waist. Repeat with the remaining filling and husks to make 24 parcels in total.

6. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook the hallaquitas for 10–15 minutes, or until firm. Unwrap the husks to eat.

South American GrillThese four BBQ recipes have been taken from Rachael Lane's new book South American Grill (Hardie Grant, £18.99); a collection of South American recipes for the grill, including side dishes, salsas, and desserts. Order your copy on Amazon now.

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