Chimichurri sauce is a condiment or relish (typically green though sometimes red from the addition of red peppers) that is very popular with steak in Argentina. It’s also used as a marinade for beef or chicken. Argentina is the world’s second highest consumer of beef, and it’s usually served with this tangy, garlicky sauce. You can make chimichurri with grocery store ingredients, but oh man is it amazing with fresh picked parsley, cilantro and oregano from my own garden!
I first learned of chimichurri sauce at a restaurant called Gaucho Grill in Hawaii. It was a laid back Argentinian chain restaurant, and for the beef lover in me, it was heaven on earth, especially because I got a discount.
I had a friend who worked there, one of those giant teddy bears of a gay man who immediately makes everyone he meets want to hug him. He was a server at Gaucho Grill, but wanted to be a chef one day. Not only would I get hooked up with a discount whenever he was working, but he’d also bring me a variety of chimichurri sauces to test.
They always served a bowl of chimichurri sauce as a dip for bread before your food arrives. But this friend was working on perfecting his own recipe for chimichurri sauce and wanting a discriminating pallete to give him feedback. My absolute favorite for the bread had feta cheese in it, because my motto is “feta makes it bettah” but for a really good steak, I found that simple was the way to go.
Authentic chimichurri sauce (very similar to the Puerto Rican mojo sauce) is basically garlic, vinegar, olive oil and red pepper flakes with lots and lots of chopped parsley. You can add other fresh herbs or paprika, and play with different kinds of vinegars to make it your own. Since I have an abundance of fresh oregano, I knew it needed to be included. I also really like the bright lime green yellow of my oregano and think it makes the sauce visually stunning.
When I asked my friend how to make chimichurri sauce he responded “Oh girl, it’s so easy! Do you have a food processor?” “No.” “Oh, well how about a blender?” “No, I’m poor remember?” “Well you’ve gotta have a good knife or I’m buying you one right now!”
Fortunately, a knife was the one kitchen item I did have. A $10 knife from Safeway that I kept sharp with a $2 knife sharpener. Yep, big spender.
He showed me how to finely chop my herbs and garlic with a knife until it reached a saucy consistency when mixed with olive oil and vinegar. I had a pot of parsley in my windowsill and soon I was making chimichurri for everything! I mostly ate it on eggs and rice since that was pretty much what I could afford back then.
The good news is, you can make my chimichurri recipe so affordably whether you grow your own herbs or not. A bunch of parsley is never more than $1 at our local grocery store. If you don’t have a ton of fresh oregano and cilantro like I do, just substitute more parsley!
Because we buy our beef in bulk, I serve this over amazing cuts like ribeyes and tenderloins. If you buy your steaks in the grocery store, I can’t sing enough praises for chimichurri flank steak. I used to get a big flank steak at Sam’s Club for around $20 and divide into 12-15 steaks to freeze individually. Whenever we wanted to grill I’d thaw a couple and marinate them in a batch of chimichurri.
If you don’t have a grill or don’t have the weather for grilling (we’re back to rain again this week, boo-hoo!) you can easily pan fry your steaks!
What would you put chimichurri sauce on?
Chimichurri Sauce RecipePrep time: 3 minutes Cook time: 0 minutes Total time: 3 minutes Yield: 3/4 cup
- 1/2 cup
oregano leaves, loosely packed
- 1 cup
parsley leaves and stems, loosely packed
- 2 sprigs
- 4 cloves
- 1/8 tsp
red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup
- 1/4 cup
red wine vinegar
- to taste
- Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve, will last 2-3 days in the fridge.
Approximate cost/serving: This came out very cheap because most of the ingredients were from my own garden, grown from seed. It cost me just 60 cents to make and at about 6 servings it’s just 10 cents a serving. If you have to buy your herbs, just use parsley and it should only cost around 90 cents to make.
Vegetarian/Gluten Free: The sauce is vegetarian and vegan and is great over rice or potatoes. It’s also gluten free.