It’s the month of March and I’m celebrating GREEN! The beginning of Spring, St. Patrick’s Day, and Chimichurri–an Argentinian sauce filled with tons of healthy green deliciousness whose origins, some say, might just be Ireland (or somewhere close).
Chimichurri is a mixture of herbs–parsley and cilantro, with lemon, vinegar and a variety of spices. It’s used as a condiment to be served with meat. Sort of like how we Americans naturally reach for ketchup to use on our burgers and fries, chimichurri similarly is used in Argentina alongside grilled meats.
Everyone Loves a Good Story
So what are the origins of Chimichurri Sauce? Lots of different versions ranging from Argentinian Gauchos preparing it for meat on the range, to a combination of flavors stemming from the influence of Spain and italy in the region. But my favorite story is that this unusually named sauce comes from an Irishman named “Jimmy McCurry. Jimmy, it seems, was found marching with the Argentinian troops during 19th Century fight for Argentine independence. Mr. McCurry’s name, being difficult to pronounce by the native people of Argentina somehow got changed to Chimichurri. And the same name was chosen for the sauce he created.
How Do You Use This Delicious Chimichurri Sauce?
Chimichurri sauce can be use with any grilled meat or even vegetables. Personally I think its tastes wonderful as a dip for slices of a crusty baguette. It’s equally delicious on grilled or steamed veggies.
Although not typically designed to be used as a marinade, I’ve tried it and found it to really enhance the flavor of the beef, pork or chicken I’m grilling. Just pour the sauce onto the meat and let it rest in the fridge for several hours before placing the meat on the grill. Oh yes it’s good!
And it tastes pretty darn good as a salad dressing. I just mixed mixed salad greens, sliced red onion, chopped tomato, and sliced avocado with just enough chimichurri sauce to completely cover the greens. Yes it’s a winner, too!
And Chimichurri is Healthy, Too
Chimichurri sauce is loaded with lots of green–parsley, cilantro, oregano, olive oil. Add in some onion and garlic and you’ll find so many antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamins and minerals to protect your heart, your brain, your digestive system…and the list goes on.
My version of this popular Argentinian sauce is easy to make and perfect for when you’re ready to fire up the grill. I’m using chicken just because but remember any beef or pork will also work.
Food Processor, Blender or Knife?
I usually use a food processor because it’s easy. So is a blender. Just be careful to pulse or blend slowly as you don’t want a totally smooth sauce. Chopping the herbs by hand guarantees a more authentic texture, but it does take time. All work, so the choice is yours.
I’m sure my Chimichurri Sauce version isn’t quite authentic, but I’ve had no complaints from my guests.
Feel free to play with the flavors a little bit. I like my chimichurri to be a little zippier than some others I’ve tried, so I add lemon or lime juice. I also LOVE garlic, so depending on the size of the cloves, I’ve been known to add 5 or even 6 cloves. I taste as a go, and add 1-2 teaspoons of lemon/lime juice and/or red wine vinegar, additional garlic or salt. Just remember to a little at a time–taste, taste, taste.
Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri Sauce
1/2 cup flat leaf (Italian) parsley.
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 small white onion, rough chop
2-3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice (optional)
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1/2 Tablespoon pepper sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds boneless chicken breasts or sirloin steak
REMOVE stems from parsley and cilantro.
Place the parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, cumin, salt, and hot pepper sauce into a blender or food processor.
BLEND on low speed (if using a blender) or PULSE about 10-15 time (scape down bowl at around 5 seconds), until ingredients are JUST evenly blended. You don’t want it to look like mush. You can chop the ingredients with a knife, if desired.
CUT the chicken or steak into strips or cubs. PLACE in a shallow dish.
SPOON half of your chimichurri sauce over the chicken or steak, and MIX to coat completely. RESERVE remaining chimichurri.
THREAD chicken or steak onto skewers, and GRILL for about 2-3 minutes on each side until no longer pink. PLACE onto a serving plate. SERVE with reserved chimichurri.
NOTES: Personally, I loved it as a dipping sauce for a thinly sliced baguette. Although not originally used as a marinade, I tried it (marinading chicken for 2-6 hours), and it was a darn tasty.
Be sure to taste this after you finish chopping and combining. You may need to add more salt, a couple more squeezes of lemon juice, another minced garlic clove, a few more dashes of hot pepper sauce or sprinkles of pepper flakes.