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Simply Food: Chimichurri Sauce

January 14, 2014
By Wendy Monro , The Journal

Many years ago, I visited an Argentinean restaurant in Southern California. I forget the name. This place was wonderful and the food was incredibly flavorful. They cooked with tons of herbs and spices. I loved the spinach with loads of garlic and lemon. I always enjoyed spinach with butter and salt; but, this tangy version was far superior, in my opinion. Garlic and lemon make almost anything taste better.

My favorite part of the meal, however, was the chimichurri sauce. This tangy, spicy, herby sauce was served in a small bowl before the meal with a warm loaf of bread. I couldn't get enough of it. I completely scraped out the bottom of the dish with my last piece of bread. I could have had the bread and the sauce as my entire meal.

Recently, we visited a restaurant, which served a similar dish. Actually, it was a different dish but the same sauce. I recognized it instantly. This time, instead of eating it with bread, the sauce was cooked over roasted vegetables. I asked about the sauce and found out it is called chimichurri sauce. I went home and researched this sauce a little further. The sauce seems to originate in Argentina. Some websites say it is the "ketchup" of Argentina while others say it absolutely is not the "ketchup." I think that term offended some people of Argentinean descent. Whatever type of sauce or condiment this is, chimichurri sauce is a common marinade in South America. It can be used to enhance fish, meat, poultry, pasta, vegetables or bread. You create it by combining several fresh herbs with lemon, vinegar, peppers and spices.

Article Photos

Flank steak with Chimichurri Sauce.

Many early settlers from around the world brought with them a variety of cooking styles, which influenced the Argentinean cuisine. Apparently, the origin of the sauce is not known but several sites state that an Irish man (or was he English? I read both versions) named Jimmy McCurry (or Jimmy Curry) visited Argentina and whipped up this sauce. The native Argentineans could not pronounce his name and they called it chimichurri sauce. I like the sound of that. It's so cute and funny. So, that is the version that I choose to believe. What I know for certain is that this sauce is very easy to make. You can make a big batch and freeze some for later. It goes with almost anything.

I decided to make it with mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower and skirt steak. I had 40 minutes to make the entire meal because Claud and I were about to leave to see the play, "Mamma Mia." I wasn't sure if I had time but I went for it anyway. I threw the potatoes into the hot water on the stove first and turned on the oven. I chopped up some cauliflower and placed those on a cookie sheet with salt, pepper and olive oil. Luckily skirt steak cooks in ten minutes and this sauce takes so little time as well. Before we knew it, we were sitting down to our meal. It's funny because when I told Claud I was going to make this sauce for my article, he thought it was going to be a boring idea. Then, he ate the lunch I made and changed his mind. He went back to the bowl of sauce and put some more on the potatoes and the cauliflower. He said it was amazing and tasty. I liked the idea that it can be used on so many different foods. I bet it would even make a nice salad dressing too. So, we ate our lunch and quickly changed for the show. We made it there with time to spare.

Fact Box

Chimichurri Sauce

Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 4

1 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup sherry wine

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

4 tablespoons basil, chopped

1 tablespoon oregano leaves, chopped

3 tablespoons garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

teaspoon crushed red peppers

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound skirt steak

In a food processor, combine olive oil, lemon juice, sherry, vinegar, parsley, basil, oregano, garlic and shallots. Pulse until mixed well but not pureed. Pour into a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add crushed red pepper. Rub cup of this mixture onto the skirt steak. Stick into a freezer bag and place into the refrigerator for a couple of hours to marinade. If you don't have time, just leave it on for as long as you can. Heat a grill pan on medium high heat. Cook the steak for five minutes on each side. Or cook until it is cooked how you like it. Serve with over mashed potatoes and with vegetables or salad. Place a dollop of the chimichurri onto the steak or on the vegetables.



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