Michael: Now that I live in South America you can forget the steak sauce. Just pass me the chimichurri. And don’t try to serve me any American beef.
I can understand why residents of the USA and some other countries slather a piece of beef with a sauce loaded with strong tasting elements – not to mention all the preservatives and artificial this and that in it. The purpose seems to be more to cover up the taste of the meat. I can’t blame them. The cows are fed GMO corn and even gummy bears. There are antibiotics in their salt blocks even if they aren’t sick. Add to it hormones to make them grow faster. Then there is the general pesticides and other chemicals in their grain. AlterNet.org says that sick dairy cows about to die are sometimes sold to slaughterhouses quickly. Heck, even Mexico refused some American beef because it far exceeded limits for heavy metal contamination. That meat, they say, was later sold in the USA.
On Slate.com, author Mark Schatzker tested and wrote about which beef has the best taste. The conclusion was grass fed cows without any hormone additives. In another article in the Guardian titled Why Beef is Good for you they wrote, “Stick to the grass-fed beef, not the grain-fed meat that dominates the supermarkets, and the health benefits multiply”
Colombian cows and those from many other South American countries, like Argentina, are grass fed. The meat begins with great taste. The purpose of the sauce is to compliment the beef and enhance the flavor, not cover it up. For that purpose Colombians use chimichurri. And that sauce does not come out of a bottle. Each restaurant and home makes it themselves. Consequently there are many variations.
Graciela: The history of chimichurri is interesting. Actually there are different stories of its name. Though everyone agrees the origin is in Argentina. There is one history that a British man who spoke only English came to the country back in the 17th century. His name was James but everyone called him Jimmy. As a European he wanted a sauce, or curry as the Spanish refer to it, for his meat. They could offer him nothing that suited him so he started putting differ ingredients together to come up with something he liked. In the way Americans say, “Hey,” and Colombians say, “Oye,” Argentinians say, “che.” The locals would help out Jimmy but the language barrier was an issue since the Brit spoke only English. The “J” in Spanish is silent. So they would say to him, “Che-immy-curry,” which has become chimichurri.
I believe more though in the story that the word came from the Basque who migrated from Spain and France and settled in Argentina (10% of Argentineans are of Basque descent). In the Euskera language there is the word “tximitxurri” which means a mixture of things in no particular order.
Michael: How to make chimichurri. There are many different recipes for this sauce. I will present a basic mixture here and then suggest additions. They key is to experiment with amounts and ingredients until you get exactly what you like.
1 cup parsley finely cut – flat leaf parsley is best
3 cloves of garlic peeled smashed and minced
1 teaspoon of salt – many people recommend Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper – freshly ground important
2 tablespoons of oregano leaves finely cut (dried leaves just do not taste correctly)
2 tablespoons of shallot finely cut
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3/4 cup of olive oil (remember different olive oils have different tastes)
3 tablespoons of sherry wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
Once all of this is mixed then blend it with a whisking motion using a fork. And it is best after creating this amalgamation that you give it a day to sit so that the flavors mingle with each other.
Some people like to put it all in a blender, but I am not a fan of that method, the taste just seems a little off to me.
Now you can also experiment with adding cayenne pepper and cumin.
Oh, and for those of you who wonder what to drink with your steak covered with chimichurri; an Argentinean Malbec wine gets the thumbs up from many people.