Friday, November 16, 2012

Argentine Chimichurri Sauce

This is the perfect window herb garden recipe. The Argentine condiment, Chimichurri Sauce, is slathered on meat, chicken and just about anything.

It couldn't be simpler to do: just blend together some parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar (or lime juice) and olive oil. Similar to an Italian pesto, the result is a pungent and herb infused salad dressing-like mixture that is so addicting you'll understand why it compliments so many entrees.

Besides meat, you can serve the sauce on bread, pasta, a baked potato, or any favorite cooked veggie. (And just yesterday I mixed a tablespoon-full into my breakfast egg scramble.)

I first had it a decade ago at an Argentine restaurant on Sunset Boulevard called The Goucho Grill (now gone.) I would always stop there before viewing an independent or foreign film at the next door Sunset 5 mall movie complex (since taken over by Sundance Cinemas.) Sitting at the counter I watch fire spitting up and around slabs of chicken and rib-eye steaks on the smoking grill grating. First, I would order a cold South American beer (usually Christal) and almost immediately a small bowl of Chimichurri Sauce with a basket of fresh baked sliced white bread would be placed in front of me.

It didn't take long for the sauce, bread and beer to disappear. And there was never enough Chimichurri Sauce, so I always asked for more. With a slight heat from raw garlic, the herbs, oil and vinegar (or lime juice) delivered a punch of intense flavor. I usually ordered a half grilled chicken with fries for less than $10. As I returned again and again, the prices climbed until I felt priced out. But I have no complaints -- it lasted a few years (and I even ordered a more expensive rib-eye steak from time to time.)

Now when I go to the Sunset 5 to get an art film fix I first stop by Carney's (just a few blocks West) for a great $3.75 Happy Hour of a burger, fries and a beer (click here to see my video of the best Happy Hour on the Sunset Strip.)

As I mentions earlier, if you have an herb garden then it couldn't be cheaper to make. And parsley is the least expensive herb at regular markets, and is especially cheap in an ethnic market. Oregano is harder to come by, so it's okay to use it dried from a jar.

So next time roast a chicken, grill a steak, or pan fry fish, make sure to drizzle on The 99 Cent Chef version of Chimichurri Sauce.

  • 2 cups of parsley - larger stems removed.
  • 1/4 cup of oregano leaves - strip off the leaves from the stems. Okay to use a tablespoon of dried oregano.
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil - or a favorite veggie oil.
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar - any type, I used white vinegar. You could use lime or lemon juice instead.
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic - fresh or from a jar.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • A spicy addition is 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Remove larger stems from parsley - some stem are okay as they are tender and you are going to blender it all.

Strip off leave from fresh oregano - these stems are hard and woody, so try not to add too much of these.

Add herbs to a food processor or blender. Add the chopped garlic. Pour in the olive oil and blender it all together. Pulse blender until herbs are fine chopped, about a minute.

Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Add red pepper flakes for extra heat. Pulse blender a couple more times and taste.

Chimichurra Sauce if a great meat marinade as well. Just smear it on your favorite protein and let it sit in the refrigerator about an hour, then fire up the grill or broiler.

Some recipes go with a half mixing of parsley and cilantro. You can add extra oil to stretch the sauce out more.

Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Will last a couple of weeks. When leaves begin to brown then it is done for.

If you do not have a blender then just fine chop the herbs and crush the garlic. Whisk in oil, vinegar and garlic.

Chimichurra Sauce is a great condiment that tops any grilled and roasted meat or fish. It makes a flavorful salad dressing, and also goes well drizzled on potatoes or a favorite veggie. Or just set some out with a loaf of fresh bread from you favorite grocery or deli bakery.

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