Food & Drink

Chimichurri: An easy sauce that goes well with just about everything

Don’t tell my European friends, but chimichurri is my favorite sauce in the whole world. I like it better than a Bordelaise. I like it better than ketchup. I even like it better than catsup. I like it because it has two of my favorite qualities: heat and tang. If you like those things, you'll love this sauce too.

Chimichurri is a spicy and piquant green sauce from South America. It’s used mostly to marinate or serve with grilled beef, but it goes great with just about anything else: chicken, fish, vegetables, anything.

Chimichurri is meant to taste fresh. It’s an uncooked sauce and it uses lots of fresh herbs. The ingredients vary a lot, but parsley is traditional and most common, though many recipes add other herbs to increase the complexity. I recommend using fresh herbs rather than dried, although you'll see many recipes using dried oregano. Other popular additions include cilantro, tarragon or basil. If you’re grilling lamb, mint would be delicious.

You can make a red chimichurri, too, by adding up to a tablespoon of paprika (smoked or not) along with roasted red pepper.

The texture of chimichurri is open to debate. Some people prefer a somewhat loose chimichurri, almost like a broken vinaigrette. Personally, I like chimichurri to be completely emulsified, meaning the fresh herbs are pulverized into a paste, and the oil and vinegar are beaten together. This creates an even consistency and smooth texture, almost like an Indian green chutney.

When I make chimichurri in a food processor, it involves a fair amount of stopping to scrape down the sides. With all the stopping and starting, it takes several minutes to get the smooth consistency that I like.

The amounts of each ingredient are not going to be exact. It will all turn out OK, and you'll end up with roughly a cup of sauce, more than enough.

Chimichurri

1 bunch fresh parsley (Italian or curly)

1 bunch cilantro (or oregano or tarragon or any other herb you like)

2 cloves garlic (more if you really love it)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/2 ounces red wine vinegar

4 ounces extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse it to a rough paste.

Turn the food processor off. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides.

Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the mixture is smooth. Drizzle in the oil with the motor running, or remove the paste to a bowl and whisk it in.

Taste and season with more salt or red pepper flakes if desired. Spoon chimichurri over something hot and delicious, and eat it immediately.

Yield: 1 cup.

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