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