Guess what I learned this weekend? Overalls are back. For real. Not that you’ll catch me in them, but if you attend your after-work watering hole in Dungarees, you will be en vogue. Second, bike clips are the devil. If God intended us to be one with our bikes, He would have made falling less painful.
The third is the most shocking of all: chimichurri is not customizable. WHAAAAAT?????
If you thought that the classic Argentine dish was just a general term for a bunch of herbs of your choosing mixed together, you thought WRONG, and any Argentinian will call you out and make sure you know you are mistaken. They’re not being mean- they’re just defending the iconic condiment. I dig it.
Why did I need to educate myself on the intricacies of authentic chimichurri? Because when you’re one of the few people who think throwing a South American-themed food party is super-cool, you at least need to bring your authenticity A-game. Most recipes for ‘chimichurri’ I read about had about 87,000 comments from people saying ‘I’m Argentinian, this is not authentic, there is no cilantro in chimichurri, you’re a gringo, I wouldn’t feed this to my perro, etc.’ Argentinians feel strongly about the authenticity of their favorite condiment, and I didn’t want word to get out that there was a Knoxville girl throwing a South American-themed party with gringo chimichurri.
Did you catch what I wrote above? There is no cilantro in classic chimichurri. Did not see that one coming. From my research, it seems that most people think cilantro, maybe mint, and maybe some lemon zest make up a classic chimichurri. As delicious as that sounds, it’s not the Real Deal. The only herbs in an authentic chimichurri are parsley and oregano, mixed with some garlic, chili flakes, vinegar, salt and olive oil. Nothing fancy, just straight up herbaceous deliciousness.
While I admit I was totally skeptical about making the Real Deal sans cilantro, mint and lemon zest (because doesn’t that just sound perfect?), I wanted to see what kind of perfect original combination made Argentinians blaze through impostors with virtual torches. The chopped up herbs + vinegar mixture in my food processor smelled way too grassy and pungent to taste like the silky, mellow-sweet condiment I wanted to spread over my steak like a blanket of flavor.
But… then you add copious amounts of olive oil and let. it. sit. That’s when the transformation occurs.
Over the course of a few hours the grassiness mellows, the oregano comes through a little more, and the piquant vinegar cuts through the richness of the olive oil to create a sauce that was meant to be painted on hot slices of grilled steak and enjoyed till the very last drop. Hats off to Argentina. This is the STUFF.
Although I did not stray from the classic flavors, I did something that would probably make most Argentinian abuelas turn red with rage and indignation- I used a food processor for the choppin’. You want everything finely chopped, and that’s the best way to get it that way if your knife skills are less than ninja. BUT… you don’t want everything pureed together, which is why I pulsed the ‘dry’ ingredients till they were perfectly chopped, then scraped them out of my food processor and stirred in the olive oil. This keeps the texture just right, and lets the herbs and garlic perfume the oil, rather than make everything into a dressing. When you’re serving it, you stir it up and spoon from the bottom, making sure you get a nice spoonful of herbs + a nice amount of that fragrant oil to add that buttery-rich component to your steak. Anything that makes steak more buttery rich is a friend of mine! Plus, aren’t all the food personalities always saying that you need to add a ‘pop of color’ before serving something? Hello, chimichurri- best pop of color EV-AH!
Making an authentic chimichurri was like stoking my flame of passion for a meat + sauce combo with tiny wisps of oxygen and dried-out wood. If the same flame of passion consumes your soul, you will definitely want to check out this post, this post, this post, and this post.
- 2 cups packed Italian flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ cup packed fresh oregano
- 4 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup sherry or red wine vinegar
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil (best quality)
- Pulse parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped (this will take a bunch of pulses, but you don't want to puree the mixture). Scrape parsley mixture into a bowl and stir in olive oil. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving so the flavors can meld. YUM!!!!