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Zox Kitchen

Zox Kitchen: August 1, 2013

Chimichurri, The All Purpose Condiment

Summertime calls for grilling your favorite cuts of meat and vegetables and enjoying eating s’mores made at an outdoor campfire under the stars, even if the campfire is just a Weber grill in your backyard. Grilling on an open fire reminds me of my favorite Spanish teacher who would transport us to Latin America with stories about visiting the Pampas of Argentina. Conjugating verbs and learning Spanish vocabulary became more palatable while listening to her tell us about the wonderful steaks of the Pampas that she enjoyed at roadside cafes with her friends.

But there was another treat she mentioned that was also delectable. This was the condiment called Chimichurri that Argentinians and others in the know eat like ketchup or BBQ sauce. It’s so easy to make and proves that the best dishes are often the simplest ones to make. Chimichurri is a green sauce made with puréed parsley. This condiment is often a surprise to people when they first taste it, but it is invariably appreciated and often adored. Chimichurri is excellent with all kinds of beef, chicken, pork or seafood and goes well with vegetables too. Because acid in the form of lemon juice and lemon zest are at the heart of the ingredients, Chimichurri lasts in the refrigerator for up to two weeks without any loss of flavor or freshness.

Since steak is the protein of choice on the Pampas, let’s focus attention on beef options that are available. My favorite cut is rib-eye, but it’s quite pricy as are tenderloin and strip sirloin. You can make these cuts last longer if you cut them about 2 inches thick after grilling. Skirt steak is probably the easiest and quickest cut to prepare. You simply grill it for 2-3 minutes per side over a very hot grill with a little Dijon mustard slathered on both sides. Not surprisingly, America’s favorite, the hamburger, also is excellent with Chimichurri, either on top of the meat or on the side. I season my hamburgers with coarse black pepper without sea salt. I choose beef that is 85 percent lean, which is the tastiest since it has a bit more fat.

This condiment is best served in a bowl where everyone can help themselves. It’s a good idea to make a double or triple recipe portion since it disappears pretty fast. In fact, I now assume a ratio of one bunch of parsley to 2-3 dinner guests because it’s not unusual for diners to consume 3-4 large tablespoons each at one sitting. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy and remember that it goes well with vegetables, too.

Chimichurri Recipe — One portion

Ingredients

• 1 bunch of Italian parsley

• Juice of ½ lemon

• Zest of ½ lemon

• 3 garlic cloves, chopped

• ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil

• ¼ teaspoon cayenne red pepper

• Sea salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon)

Preparation

The ideal consistency of Chimichurri after blending all ingredients together is a bit chunky and not quite smooth — about a seven on the “puree scale” assuming 10 is completely smooth. I also recommend using a blender, or if more convenient, use a food processor. Rinse the parsley very thoroughly in a colander, otherwise it can be sandy. I rinse the bunch under the faucet and then dunk the parsley several times in a bowl with lukewarm water. Then I rinse again under the faucet. Next I remove most of the stems. You can remove the stems before rinsing but I find they give you something to hold onto.

Next, I place all the cleaned parsley in the blender with the remaining ingredients and replace the top of the blender very securely. Blend 2-3 times and see how blended it is after pulling the electric cord to make sure the blender is off. Check the sauce visually to see if you have achieved your consistency of choice. You may need to blend 1-2 more times. Taste it with a spoon to see if you need to add any more of a particular ingredient such as salt, red pepper, garlic, lemon juice, zest or olive oil. Tasting before serving is essential. Once satisfied, remove the sauce from the blender and chill in a ceramic or glass bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer. That should do it. Bon appetit. If you like it, I’m guessing your family, friends and guests will like it, too.