Do you remember my last post? Where I showed off my parsley harvest? I know it didn’t impress you. Those parsley plants were bolting. They had to be pulled and tossed into the compost bin.
But why waste perfectly good food? I cut up the stems and roots (washed clean, of course) and threw them in the pot, to flavor the soup stock. Then I plucked all the leaves.
And turned them into chimichurri. To go with all this,
And the carnivores went wild. And it ought to impress you. It’s resourcefulness 101. Even the flowers graced the table as decoration.
I first was introduced to chimichurri by an Argentinian neighbor. Let’s call him Glenn. Glenn was a character. His wife often travelled for work, and when he was left alone in the house, he would do unusual things. One of them was camping, in his own backyard.
He would pitch a tent, live off the land, and cook his meals on a charcoal grill. Mostly he cooked hotdogs and hamburgers. But once in a while, he fancied up and grill steaks, that he would eat with chimichurri sauce. Most of the time, but not always.
(That’s lesson #1: Argentinians don’t always put chimichurri on their steaks, only most of the time.)
Despite his quirkiness, Glenn was very friendly, and once or twice offered for us to sample his meals. Perhaps in an effort to pacify us, for not paying for his share of the fence. That’s another story, but it’s an old one, so I won’t even go there.
Glenn’s chimichurri was very simply made. Chopped up parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, water, salt & pepper. Sometimes he added oregano and hot pepper flakes, but sometimes he didn’t. His sauce was more watery than the ones I’ve seen in restaurants, and he never added lime or lemon juice.
(That’s lesson #2: Argentinians don’t add citrus juice in their chimichurri.)
At a Brazilian steakhouse in Niagara Falls, Canada, I encountered yet a different version of chimichurri. Reddish, with chopped red peppers instead of the more familiar greenish kind. That Brazilian steakhouse is also another story, for another day.
(That’s lesson #3: Brazilian steakhouses are apparently more relaxed about their chimichurri than Glenn.)
I could guarantee one thing, though. That all these versions are delicious eaten with your grilled meats. Rivaled only by Korean barbecue sauce, as the perfect condiment to put on top of a piece of beef.
And if there is one ingredient that is common in all versions, it is parsley. Along with garlic.
(That’s lesson #4: Remember the two most important ingredients in chimichurri: Parsley and garlic. It must have them.)
I’ve made many versions of chimichurri, of course. Some thick, some more watery. Some with lime juice, some without. Some with red peppers, some with other herbs, etc. Obviously, some turn out better than others.
But for now, I’m giving you the easiest and safest version, the one that will unlikely go wrong or offend an Argentinian. Unless he’s a traditionalist like Glenn, in which case he will probably let you know that you shouldn’t use a food processor.
As-authentic-as-you-can-get Chimichurri Sauce
You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate, but make sure you let it come to room temperature, so the oil relaxes (“melts”), before serving.
1½ cups flat-leaved parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp dry, chopped
1 – 2 tsp crushed pepper flakes (depending on your tolerance for heat)
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1-2 tbsp lime/lemon juice (optional) or water
⅓ cup olive oil
Salt & pepper
1. Place all ingredients, except for the oil, in a food processor, and grind until blended.
2. Add olive oil and blend very briefly, or stir by hand. The sauce should not emulsify.
You can make your sauce chunky or smooth. Whatever you prefer. Anything goes. It’s your sauce, you decide.
(Final lesson: Please don’t let Glenn know of the “anything goes” remark, because he would kill me. On second thought, go ahead and tell him. Hey, life is too short! Everybody should be allowed to put in his or her own twist. Besides, we’ve moved to a different state now.)
So actually, there’s no final lesson. Just have a great Memorial Day weekend. Grill some meats, grill some corns. Make a salad, make yuca frita. And don’t forget to make chimichurri sauce, to go with everything.
And make sure other people around you eat their food with the chimichurri. You don’t want to be the only one with the garlic breath. Maybe THAT should be the Final Lesson.
By the way, this reminds me of a debate I had with a friend over how to properly make sambal. Oy, my head is spinning just thinking about it. Thankfully, that’s also another story, for another day. When I have chili peppers to harvest, to make a “proper” sambal.