Grilling Season in Chicago Already? Add Some Acid: Chimichurri

Can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted!  Very busy this past week, which has also seen some record-setting temperatures here in Chicago.  70s and 80s.  In March.  Now that’s my kind of Chicago winter.  Of course we’ll probably get some snow at Easter now.  Oh well, what can you do?  It’s pretty awesome in Chicago when the weather starts to get warm, the whole city embraces it and finds reasons to go outside and enjoy the sunshine (St. Patrick’s Day was last weekend so they didn’t have to search much). Bars and restaurants have flung open their doors and windows and set up their outside seating areas, and the scent of grilling meat has been emanating from backyards and decks throughout the neighborhood. 

I got into the act too and wiped the winter grime away from our grill, scrubbed it with the wire brush, and fired it up.  Ah it’s a good feeling when your grill starts up on the first go after winter.  I dragged our table up from the basement and put out the deck chairs.  Seriously, it’s been so warm here in Chicago it’s felt like summer.  It’s really going to suck when it does go back to normal later this week (allegedly), so we’ve taken advantage of it.  Sunday night we had some grilled steak and what goes great with steak?  Chimichurri.

Why does this combination work?  Because of acid (not the Woodstock kind).  As one of your taste senses (sour, sweet, salty, bitter, umami), acid enhances the contrast in any dish.  Adding acid to food is like clicking the contrast button in a photo adjustment.  It sharpens the flavor.  Don’t believe me?  Is asparagus better plain or with lemon juice squeezed on it?  Is a reuben sandwich as good without the sauerkraut?  Why do you think you always get some pickles (excuse me, cornichons)with a charcuterie plate?  Contrast.  Taste some grilled vegetables, then squeeze a lemon over the same vegetables and taste the difference.  Same thing with meat, and that’s where the chimichurri comes in.

The famous condiment of Argentina is simple to make and while it goes with just about anything that comes off the grill, it’s best with beef (it’s really good with sausages too).  Parsley, oregano, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, oil, and some acid either vinegar or lemon juice (or a little of both).  I may not make the most traditional chimichurri but with all the different types of vinegar we have access to these days I like to get creative.  And so should you!  When you’re grilling this summer (or this week) bust out the acid and put some of this on your steak, as well as squeezing some lemons over everything else that comes off the grill!  You’ll never go back to plain.

Chimichurri

  • 1 C parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs oregano, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ – 1 Tbs shallot, minced (depending on your taste)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ C olive oil
  • 2 Tbs vinegar (red wine, sherry, white, cider, experiment a little here people!)
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice from a wedge of lemon

Combine the oregano, parsley, garlic, shallots, pepper flakes, and salt in a small bowl.  Stir in the olive oil.  Mix in the vinegar and lemon juice.

Spoon over sliced steak and enjoy the contrast!

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