The Beauty of Chimichurri
Eighteen years ago I boarded a plane heading south for Argentina to guide fly fishing in Tierra del Fuego. I had little knowledge of the country, its system of government, geographical boundaries, or economy. What I did know, was that Argentina is famous for towering peaks, vast deserts, bountiful cropland, large trout, and of course it’s beef! The allure of guiding fly fishing in Patagonia took control of me, and for the next 13 seasons, Shelby and I loaded up in the fall and flew south for the winter. We moved around a little, working several seasons in Chile, and then permanently settling in the less wet, but often more windy side of the Andes, Argentina.
The culture was intoxicating. Everyone happy to hug one another, share the same bombilla (straw) while drinking Mate, share a beer, but most importantly, sit down and share an Asado. Asado is the Spanish equivalent of the English word Barbecue, but in South America, going to an Asado takes on almost more of a mystique than that of going to a barbecue. Maybe it was because it was all new; The smell of the smoke from the Patagonia beech wood while you eat a chori-pan (chorizo sausage and baguette) while sipping another glass of Malbec while you wait for the Bife de Chorizo to cook so slowly on the parilla (grill) that you almost lose interest in it. Then, like every good barbecue, there’s the sauce, called Chimichurri in Argentina. Chimichurri, is the all purpose, tastes amazing on everything, pretty healthy, easy to make, star of the Argentine asado! I could rant all day about what it takes to cook a beautiful steak, but the truth is, this sauce will make almost anything taste good.
I have always wanted to bring the cuisine of Patagonia back to Wyoming with we. Chimichurri now frequently accompanies our steaks at Flat Creek Ranch. Guests often rave about the flavor this simple sauce has. It’s simple to make, and I hope you enjoy this recipe from the book “Siete Fuegos” by Francis Mallmann.
Francis Mallmann’s Chimichurri
1 cup water
1 tbs. coarse salt
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup fresh oregano leaves
2 tsp. crushed red- pepper flakes
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the salt, and stir until it dissolves. Remove from heat, and allow to cool. Mince the garlic very finely, and put in a medium bowl. (1) Mince the parsley and oregano, and add to the garlic, along with the red-pepper flakes. (2) Whisk in the red-wine vinegar, then the olive oil. Whisk in the salted water. (3) Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and keep in the refrigerator. Let the flavors mingle for at least a day, and serve with grilled meats. The sauce can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 weeks