Grilling season is upon us. Which means, as a cooking teacher, I'll soon be inundated with questions about marinades and rubs.
I don't want a cumin-coriander dust interrupting my meat flavor. I don't search for garlic and rosemary to hide my T-bone.
I want my ribeye to taste like beef.
Centuries ago, marinades and rubs were for hiding the flavor of rancid meat; if I'm paying $20 per pound or more, I want to taste the meat, not the $5 Jack Daniels BBQ sauce that hides it.
That said, I do enjoy adorning my meat with something herby and bright.
Argentinians are world-renowned for the quality of their meat, and choose to accompany grilled items with a classic chimichurri, reputed to be a derivation of the pesto, brought by Italians when they immigrated.
"Pesto" means paste, though domestically it's best known as a thick basil, parmesan and pine nut sauce. Legend has it that when the culinarily gifted Italians came to Argentina, they continued making their pastes with local herbs, and parsley, cilantro and oregano were in abundance.
Unlike your classic basil pesto, chimichurri is more acidic. The acid (typically red wine, lemon juice or a combination) cuts through a fatty cut of meat (like skirt steak), refreshing your palate for each new bite.
Chimichurri is still under the radar -- though it's unlikely to stay there for long. Unlike its cousin basil pesto, and great aunt salsa, this sauce is still something that you can't find pre-made in stores. You want it? You gotta make it.
Simple Chimichurri Sauce
1 small bunch parsley (about 1 1/2 cups), washed, tough stems removed
1 small bunch cilantro (about 1 1/2 cups), washed
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup light or blended olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, smashed
In a blender, combine parsley, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Puree until it becomes a sauce, with flecks of green. Be sure garlic is chopped well. Season with salt, and serve with a grilled chicken and/or beef.