Shimmy for the Chimichurri

The first thing I do when I enter any Brazilian steakhouse is scope out the salad bar. Not for the endless options of meats, cheeses, sides, and salads. No, for the condiments. Specifically chimichurri. Brazilian roasted meat just isn’t the same for me without it. It’s like the pesto of South American cuisine. Originating in Argentina, chimichurri is now ubiquitous on many in neighboring countries’ dining tables. It’s bright, acidic, and refreshing and a wonderful topping for grilled steak. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it! It quite nearly beats out my preferred bleu cheese compound butter for favorite steak toppings.

I didn’t always know about chimichurri. The Mr’s step-dad actually introduced me to it. He and his family are from Brazil and regular trips to the Brazilian rodizio, tri-tips, and Brazilian national fútbol are just a part of everyday life. I’ve had an education and gained an appreciation along the way. I remember one of the first times we went to Chamas with them. I can’t recall the occasion, but it was quite a good group of us in the party. I’d been to a Brazilian steakhouse before, but this time I watched as almost everyone in the group tap-tap-tapping little spoonfuls of this gorgeous bright green sauce atop their meat before savoring each bite.

1969 Brazil postage stamp commemorating Pelé’s landmark 1,000th goal.
(Public domain)

My interest was immediately piqued. I am a long-time fan of pesto. This looked like pesto. I had to try it. Well, chimichurri is not exactly pesto, but from the first bite, I was hooked. I adorned everything on my plate with the brassy, verdant sauce. I was even sopping up the last few drops on my plate with the remaining pão de queijo in the bread basket (which in itself is no small feat since those things go fast too). This beautiful dressing intrigued me.

While I was poring over my tried-and-true Better Homes & Gardens cookbook one evening, I stumbled across this recipe for Chimichurri Sauce. Up until this point, everyone was convinced that the makings of chimichurri were somehow out of reach or mythical. Something that had to be purchased prepared. Yet, I persisted in my thinking, “It has to be made somehow…” So when I saw this recipe, a lightbulb went off. I was determined to try to make chimichurri for a South American. This, my friends, is gambling! The jarred stuff at the store just does not stand up to their standards. (Truthfully, it really isn’t that good which leads me to believe they make the stuff fresh at the restaurant.) Father’s Day and birthdays can be difficult to shop for some men, but I found my silver bullet!

This recipe bore few and simple ingredients, but made its indelible mark on all of us. Most notably, my SFIL. To say it was a success, is a serious understatement. I think he even tried licking the remnants from the jar. It was only a bummer that it only produced 2/3c. The rate this stuff goes in their house, twice that could’ve been polished off easily in a week! He’s now requested that every social event involve my making up a triple batch of chimichurri. I think I’ll smoke the ingredients next. Just to see how it turns out…

Ok. I think I need a grilled steak now.

What is one of the biggest gambles in your life that has paid off?

Currently Reading: Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham

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