Chimichurri is a herbaceous and vinegary sauce from Argentina that’s classically paired with grilled meats, especially beef, but its uses don't end there. You can combine it with a dollop of mayonnaise to marinate chicken cutlets. (That same mayo-and-chimichurri mixture makes an excellent potato salad dressing, or toss it with sliced scallions and grilled or boiled corn cut from the cob.) Combine chimichurri with equal parts olive oil to use as a marinade and dressing for grilled vegetables. Add a few crushed cloves of garlic to that same mixture, brush it on a split ciabatta or baguette, and grill or broil it for an oregano-packed take on garlic bread. It may be tempting to think of a chimichurri as a sort of Argentine parallel to Italian pesto, but it is not: While pesto is made in a mortar and pestle and emulsified into a creamy mixture with a base mostly comprised of olive oil, chimichurri is made with chopped dried herbs that are steeped in hot salty water (the brine is called salmuera) and vinegar, with less olive oil added. Its texture comes from the dried herbs rehydrating in salt water. Chimichurri can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks; it will lose its bright green color, but it will improve in flavor with time.
- Serves: 1 person
- ¼cup dried oregano
- 1teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½teaspoon red-pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- ½teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
- ½cup hot water
- Kosher salt
- ¼cup red wine vinegar
- 8medium garlic cloves
- 2tablespoons olive oil (it need not be extra-virgin, but it can be), plus more as needed
- ¼cup fresh oregano leaves, finely minced
- 1tightly packed cup fresh parsley leaves, finely minced
- Ground black pepper
Step 1Combine dried oregano, paprika, red-pepper flakes and cumin, if using, in a large bowl. Add hot water and a big pinch of salt and stir with a fork. Add vinegar and stir to combine.
Step 2Smash garlic with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle to form a rough paste, then drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and work the garlic and oil around the mortar until it emulsifies and no loose oil remains. Scrape this garlic mixture into the bowl with the oregano mixture and stir to combine. (Alternatively, smash garlic cloves on a cutting board with the flat side of a chef’s knife. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt, then use the side of your knife to scrape the mixture back and forth until a paste forms. Drizzle a little olive oil over the paste and work it in with the side of the knife. Repeat until you’ve added about a tablespoon of olive oil, then scrape the mixture up and transfer it to the bowl with the oregano mixture, add the remaining olive oil, and stir to combine.)
Step 3Add minced fresh oregano and parsley and stir to combine. Set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator overnight, to allow the dried oregano to rehydrate and the flavors and texture to develop. Stir vigorously before tasting, then adjust seasoning with salt and fresh black pepper. Unused chimichurri can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for several weeks.