Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chimichurri is a classic sauce from Argentina, which is often served with steak or other grilled or roasted meats (e.g. roast chicken, grilled fish). Since chimichurri is a robust sauce, it goes best with flavorful cuts of steak such as skirt steak. It would overwhelm a delicate tenderloin, but it goes well with leftovers from fancy steaks, if there are any.

Last night I made "Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak" (using tenderloin and rib eye) from "Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan and mashed potatoes. We had some leftovers. By chance, I had lots of parsley in my fridge, so the next day I made chimichurri and served it with the leftover ribeye steak, mashed potato pancakes*, and the leftover cognac cream sauce from Dorie Greenspan's recipe. The sauces made the leftovers nearly as good as the original steak dinner.

To cook skirt steak to serve with this sauce: Rinse the steak and pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt. Place on a plate and let sit on the countertop for about an hour so that the steak becomes room temperature. Pat the steak dry again with a paper towel. Heat a heavy cast iron pan on medium to medium high. Turn on your fan. Add enough oil to coat the pan, and place the skirt steak in the pan. Let cook for a few minutes until the bottom sears and the steak is part way cooked. Turn over and cook the other side. Gently press the steak with a spatula; if it feels very soft and lets out lots of juice, continue to cook until it is done how you like it. At this point is is okay to turn it over several times to help it cook evenly and to improve the searing on either side. (See here for an explanation for how to gauge doneness by touch.) Place the steak on a plate a little before it is cooked to your liking and let sit for 5 minutes so that the meat reabsorbs its juices (the meat will cook a little more as it sits from the residual heat). I like to cut my skirt steak into thin strips, against the grain, using a knife and cutting board before serving. Sprinkle a final seasoning of salt over the meat and serve.

Recipe: Modified from "Chimichurri" from Puerto Viejo restaurant in Buenos Aires, published in
Rating: I choose it because it just has parley, which is what I had around. most recipes also seem to include oregano, but I didn't have any on hand.
Status: Made twice.

Serves 4 (The recipe can be halved to serve 2.)
  • 1/4 cup finely minced flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5 very finely minced, peeled garlic cloves (some might be left over)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp diamond crystal kosher salt
In a small bowl, add the parsley, chili flakes, black pepper, vinegar and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix together (this allows the salt to dissolve in the vinegar before you add the oil). Mix in 1/4 cup olive oil. If the olive oil doesn't cover or nearly cover the herbs, you can mix in more olive oil, up to an additional 1/4 cup.

Some raw garlic can be more harsh and acrid than others, depending on the age and the variety of garlic. Start by mixing in half of the minced garlic. If it is already pungent enough, then reserve the remaining garlic for other recipes; otherwise add the rest of the garlic (or a portion of it, to taste).

Taste and add more salt if needed.

Let the chimichurri stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours to allow the flavors to blend and develop (if you are in a rush, let it stand at least 30 minutes).

It can be kept in a tightly covered jar in refrigerator for up to a week.

Variation: Add a tablespoon of minced fresh oregano in addition to the parsley.

* To make mashed potato pancakes: Shape large spoonfuls of mashed potatoes into disks. Heat a pan on medium. Add enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan (about 1 Tbsp). When the butter is hot (it will melt and bubble), lay a few pancakes in the pan. (Do not crowd; if you have lots of pancakes then cook them in batches). Sprinkle salt over the tops of the pancakes. Pan fry until the bottom of the pancakes are brown (about 5 minutes). Turn the pancakes carefully; the pancakes may be very delicate, depending on the consistency of your mashed potatoes. Sprinkle salt over this side of the pancakes. Pan fry until the other side is brown (about 5 minutes).

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