Chimichurri sauce has been a favorite of mine from the first day it touched my lips.
Think of crisp summer evenings filled with aromatic herbs and a slap in the face to finish it off. It has flavor by the truckload. It is fresh, tantalizing and aromatic.
Chimichurri + grilled meat = heaven
On its own, chimichurri isn’t the most interesting sauce. But when you combine it with grilled beef something magical happens.
You’ll most likely see chimichurri used on Argentinian and South American grilled dishes like our own rotisserie grilled picanha.
The sauce is believed to have originated in Argentina but there’s also a lot of stories circulation the name originated from its creator an Irish soldier while traveling with indigenous troops in the nineteenth century in Argentina.
The soldier’s name was Jimmy McCurry and the term was framed “Jimmy’s Curry”.
I like to believe the last one as it shows how words can be mixed while passed from one to another we have moved from Jimmy’s Curry to Chimichurri.
The dreaded cilantro or coriander
Unfortunately, you either love it or hate it and this recipe for authenticity requires it but, I have added some alternatives to those who cannot tolerate the soapy taste that one in five people taste when they eat it.
It’s not you, it’s me says cilantro to those one in five people but it’s actually a mixture of both.
There are chemicals in cilantro called aldehydes and these same chemicals are also used to create soaps and detergents.
Then there is a pesky gene in us humans called OR6A2 and this gene is highly sensitive to aldehyde chemicals. So, if you hate it, you’ll always hate it and vice versa, if you love it, you’ll always love it.
As I already stated though, all is not lost and I will offer up some advice for the genetically weaker that walk among us.
It’s not pesto
Pesto has a milder flavor than chimichurri, it is more commonly used with pasta dishes, where are the more robust flavors of chimichurri are suited for grilled meats.
Chimichurri is not a marinade either. It’s a condiment to add to cooked beef. It is not meant to be served warm, nor is it meant to baste meat in.
Depending on the region it is made, there are other alternatives or ingredients that can be added to freshen up the flavors.
Here are a few differnet version:
- Some say white wine vinegar is what should be used. I prefer the taste of red wine vinegar myself.
- If you don’t have red or white wine vinegar, you can always use lemon juice. I sometimes add a table spoon to my mixture, especially if cooking on a late warm summer night, it’s just adds a great freshness to the flavor profile.
- Garlic can be overpowering for some people, you can always use less or more if you want. Start off with two cloves and adjust to your taste.
- Use smoked paprika for another flavor profile, it blends well with grilled beef.
Tips for making and using chimichurri
I prefer to make chimichurri the day before I need it. This allows the flavors of the herbs and spices to intensify.
Just remember to stake it out of the fridge an hour or so before using it, you do not want to put ice cold sauce on hot meat.
When you are adding chimichurri to any grilled meat, stir it, then stir it some more. Make sure you are getting an even mixture on every last piece of meat. This way from the first bite to the last, each piece will taste the same.
Keep it simple, although a simple mix of herbs and spices, it is also a complex palate of flavors that work well together, well if you aren’t genetically ruined with the OR6A2 gene that is.
Flavor doesn’t always equal more of everything, it sometimes is finding the right balance of ingredients that work well together and these ingredients have been used for years and will still be used for many more like this.
Adjust it to your palate and don’t be afraid to mix up a recipe if you want to. That’s called experimenting and we don’t all like the same thing, you only have to mention cilantro to know that.
With all that said, don’t overthink it, mix up the ingredients, put some meat on some crispy bread, add some chimichurri and you’ll be in heaven.
- ⅓ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 green onions chopped
- ¾ cup parsley finely chopped
- 2 tbsp cilantro chopped, use basil or extra parsley if you don’t like the taste
- 2 fresh bay leaves finely chopped finely
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp chili finely chopped
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground
- Place the pealed garlic cloves, olive oil and bay leaves into a food processor and pulse until the garlic has become finely minced throughout the oil.
- Add the onions and pulse, but not to make the mixture a puree, just enough to chop all ingredients. We should still see pieces of onion in there, we want some texture in our mix.
- Using a spatula, scrape out the mixture into a bowl and add the parsley, cilantro, bay leaves, oregano, paprika, chili, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
- Now while whisking the mixture, slowly add the red wine vinegar and you’ll be left with a thick herbal vinaigrette that leaves a nice sharp sensory overload in the nostrils.
- Put this aside to allow the flavours to fully combine.
- Once meat is ready, drizzle chimichurri over the top and enjoy.