Saturday, November 12, 2005

Raisinhater Favorites – Chimichurri Sauce

For those of you who read this site, its no secret that I am not exactly a vegetarian. Much like Jeeves' dependence on fish for his mighty plots to save Bertie Wooster, my brain is fueled by beef. I love it enough to keep on eating at Churrascaria Plataforma long after all of my dining companions have flipped their coasters. Even after they have ordered their deserts I am still waving down those handsome spear wielding meatmen for yet another crispy little meatlet.

I college I gave up meat for a year or so (didn’t everyone?) and it was really difficult for me. I’d have these fantastically vivid dreams of rare cheeseburgers with crisp raw onions and melted cheddar. Dad Raisinhater thought I was insane. He’d deliberately goad me by making grilled lamb when I came home for holidays, red inside with a crispy outside, dripping juice onto little toast points. (What would you do if your kid came home from college trash-talking the family religion?) I finally cracked under the pressure. Many vegetarians talk about the gastrointestinal pain of reintroducing meat to their diet. I expected complications and revulsion. Instead, it just felt like coming home.

I believe it is because of my meat-love that I am drawn so strongly to all things Argentine (including J). The Argentines are famed for their delicious beef and lamb, and the skill with which they prepare both. The Argentines have also perfected chimichurri sauce. Chimichurri is an oil, garlic and herb sauce used on meats in Argentina. It is typically used for drier cuts, such as grilled sweetbreads, chorizo, or the intestine parts, but I was fascinated with the novelty of herby meat sauce and started putting it on everything, particularly my skirt steak.

Traditional Argentine chimichurri is made from olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, other various herbs, and sometimes vinegar. I have a recipe (adapted from epicurious) I believe is far tastier. Epicurious says that his recipe, using a two pound skirt steak, serves 6. That is just crap. Using a 1.5 lb skirt steak it serves 2, or 3 if you have dainty eaters. Do not be fooled by the size of your skirt steak, it will shrink up when it cooks. Plus, if you make extra, you can use the leftovers to make steak quesadillas!

Skirt Steak with Cilantro Chimichurri

1 skirt steak (1.5 lbs approx.)
Some cumin and pepper
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves (remove stems)
1/4 cup (or more) olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Trim skirt steak. (Each person is given only a few special talents in their lifetime. I believe one of mine is skirt steak trimming. This is one of the only things I am actually really good at. My Raisinhater siblings got music and sports, I got meat trimming.)

Slice steak crossswise into 4” pieces. (Why? I don’t know, but it fits in the pan better.) Rub steak with salt, pepper, and cumin. Cook steak in big frying pan over high heat (or, if you don’t live in NYC, grill it outside) – it doesn’t take long. I like my skirt steak medium rare, with a crispy exterior. While steak is cooking, make the chimichurri.

Using a mini food processor, chop the garlic. Add salt, lemon, cayenne, and cilantro. Chop, adding some olive oil to aid the process. Keep chopping and adding olive oil until you get the consistency you want. Here’s what mine looks like…

Serve steak with sauce on the side, or just spread it all over the steak.

And a scary skirt steak closeup...


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