Chimichurri

This chimichurri sauce is adapted from the Baco and Gjelina cookbooks. What is chimichurri? It's a heap of fresh herbs combined with olive oil, a little heat, acid, and salt. Like most simple dishes, the art is ensuring the proportions are balanced.

In addition to being delicious, the beauty of chimichurri is that there's no need to get too hung up on the exact herbs. Don't have oregano? No problem, add some extra basil, parsley, and cilantro. Does cilantro disagree with your taste buds? Add in oregano and then increase the basil and parsley. Having fish? Swap in some lemon juice for the red wine vinegar. Chimichurri can readily adapt to your protein and taste.

When it comes to technique, a number of recipes I've seen suggest using a food processor. There's no shame in efficiency, but making chimichurri is chopping bliss. Don't deny yourself the happiness and mental vacation. Grab your sharpest knife, turn on a podcast, and go with the chopping flow. Additional tips included below. There's likely a school of thought about how chopping vs. processing relates to flavor but I'm avoiding that research...for now.

Recipe Tips

Sharpest Knife in the Block

My husband's butcher grandfather said, "You'll never cut yourself with a sharp knife." That is the truth. The less force you use while slicing, the less likely you are to slip and catch your hand. Use the sharpest knife in your kitchen when making this recipe. A dull knife can pulverize the herbs making the chimichurri look kind of brown.
 Plus, chopping with a dull knife is as much fun as cutting off a finger.

Prep

Wash the herbs, gently dry them the best you can, and then lay them in a single layer on a towel or paper towels. You don't want the herbs to wilt but it helps if they're not droopy damp.

The Science of Fat

I mentioned in my Fresh Ricotta post how fat has a diluting effect on taste. Chimichurri's base is olive oil so the sauce needs to be properly seasoned with salt in order for the herbs to pop. If the sauce tastes flat, acid and salt are the ingredients you need to dial in. For richer foods like pork or beef, I bump things up a smidge further. (You may not need to do this if you have another element on the plate that's providing the acid.)

Herbs

I've made chimichurri with varying combinations of basil, parsley, cilantro, oregano, and mint. Oregano and mint are always my supporting characters since they can quickly take over the flavor. Cook's preference.

Heat

If you're sensitive to heat, you can reduce the chili flakes and minced Fresnos. It's not super spicy (in my book) but it does have a kick.

Oregano at Windrose Farm - Santa Monica Farmers Market

Farmers | Artisans

I make an effort to source my food from California artisans with a special focus on the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Below is a list of the folks who contributed to this dish.

Ingredients (Adapted from Baco and Gjelina)

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon loosely packed orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or generous pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced or grated (about 1 teaspoon minced and 1/2 teaspoon grated)
  • 15 grams minced pickled Fresno chile (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 15 grams fresh basil leaves (scant 3/4 ounce or one slightly packed cup)
  • 15 grams flat-leaf parsley (scant 3/4 ounce or one slightly packed cup)
  • 10 grams cilantro (about 1/4 ounce or 1 loosely packed cup)
  • 3 grams oregano (about 2 tablespoons )
  • Flake-style salt, to taste Note: I start with 1/4 teaspoon and adjust from there.

Instructions

  • Measure out your liquids.
  • Chop all of the ingredients, leaving the herbs for last.
  • Put everything but the olive oil in a medium bowl.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Add the olive oil, gently stirring as you pour.
  • Taste and adjust the salt and acid so that they are balanced.
  • Transfer to a small airtight container and make sure all of the herbs are nudged beneath the oil.
  • Leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes and then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight so that the flavors can meld.

Mortar & Pestle Option

I haven't tried this method but have seen a few recipes that mention it. Creating the paste makes sense so I plan to give it a try at some point.

  • Mash the minced garlic, peppers, zest, and chile flakes in a mortar & pestle to form a paste. Perhaps the shallots should be in there, too.
  • Proceed with the instructions above.

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