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01/02/2016

~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~

IMG_0105The first time I ate steak with chimichurri sauce drizzled over it I was in my latter twenties and in a Houston steak house.  It was amazing -- the steak too.  I remember odd foodie facts like this because I tagged along on many of Joe's many business trips during the 1980's and '90's.  On this one, our only trip ever to Houston, we ate in a steak house one night and a fish market the next.  Sometimes, the secret really is in the sauce, and, chimichurri is one such example.

This bright-green, herb-driven condiment, similar in appearance to Italian pesto, works well as a marinade for tough cuts of beef like flank or skirt steak, and, it's delicious served atop fish or vegetables too -- steamed cauliflower, grilled sweet corn, fresh or roasted tomatoes, etc.  Like its Italian cousin, every cook in every houshold tunes the proportions to suit themselves, and, it wasn't long after I returned to Happy Valley that I started dabbling in chimichurri making.

PICT2295Chimichurri is Spanish -- an Argentinean Gaucho's Condiment! 

As hard as it was to get my three kids to eat "green things", they took to chimichurri on steak like it was chocolate sauce on ice cream, so, I made it often.  I had been serving it for more than a few years when I learned that it did not have its origin in Mexico or the American Southwest. That happened when my cousin Barbara brought her Peruvian boyfriend to my house and he explained that chimichurri is an Argentinean condiment that made its way north through Central America into Mexico and onto our Tex-Mex tables -- where it holds a place of honor today.  

History:  Back in the 16th Century there was a large influx of cattle into Argentina from Spain, which quickly made beef their country's main source of protein.  The Argentinean cowboys, or gouchos, who herded the cattle, came up with this flavorful, super-easy-to-mix-together, rustic blend of native herbs, spices and oil to top their cowboy-cooked steaks.  The name "chimichurry" evolved from the basque word "trimitxurri", which means "a mixture of many of things".

IMG_99972  cups fresh cilantro leaves, as few stems as possible, medium-packed

1 1/2  cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, as few stems as possible, medium-packed

1/4  cup fresh oregano leaves, or, 1 teaspoon dried oregano  (Note:  Fresh oregano is authentic, but, when I used to make this sauce for my kids, they liked it better without FRESH, so, I substituted and added 1 teaspoon dried oregano.  The choice is yours.) 

1  cup small-diced red onion

6  large garlic cloves

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

3/4  teaspoon sugar

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

3/4  teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

1/4  cup red wine vinegar

1/2  cup olive oil

IMG_0003~ Step 1.  Prep the cilantro leaves and parsley leaves as directed, placing them on a paper-towel lined plate as you work.  

Note:  For best results, the leaves need to be as dry as possible, meaning, free of any moisture from rinsing.

IMG_0004 IMG_0008 IMG_0010 IMG_0014~Step 2.  In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, mince the onion and garlic, using a series of about 25 rapid on-off pulses.  Note:  You want the onion and garlic minced, not pureed, so don't over pulse.  Add the cilantro and parsley leaves to the work bowl, and, using 10-15 more pulses, finely chop the leaves.  Once again, do not over process.

IMG_0017~ Step 3.  Transfer the herb mixture to a medium mixing bowl and add the lime juice, sugar, salt, red and black pepper.  Add the red wine vinegar and stir to thoroughly combine.  Vigorously whisk in the olive oil.  Taste but do not be inclined to add too much of "this or that" right now as it will take a bit of time for the flavors to develop.

Note:  Whisking the finely-chopped herb mixture with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, not in the the food processor, produces the authentic chimichurri texture.

~ Step 4.  Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight.  Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to serving.  Store in the refrigerator up to a week, or, freeze in small containers.

Chimichurri sauce today, my steak slider recipe tomorrow! 

IMG_0213Chimichurri:  The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups sauce.

Special Equipment List:  paper towels; cutting board; chef's knife; food processor; large spoon and/or whisk

IMG_6630Cook's Note:  Everyone loves potato salad with steak, or at least I think they do.  For a unique potato salad recipe that pairs perfectly with chimichurri, or Southwestern fare in general. click into Categories 4, 10, 13, 17 or 20 to get my recipe for ~ Russet & Sweet Potato Salad w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016) 

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