What is the Argentine Seasoning (Chimichurri) ? Basic Recipe how to make

The Gauchos of northern Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil are a kind of cowboy (some called them nomadic rustlers in the past), who traditionally spend much of their time on horseback herding cattle across the pampas, the southern central plains of South America. With a cultural background derived from local natives mixed with Spaniards and African slaves, they live mostly on the barbecued meat (history of barbecue) of the animals they drive. It is common to see, even in modern restaurants, whole carcasses of meat animals, mostly sheep or steers, with their bellies open and their limbs extended, roasting over a charcoal fire. Another grilled meat dish is the parrillada, where the inner organs of the animals (heart, kidneys, etc.), as well as sausages and other special cuts, are grilled on a grating of parallel iron bars. Together with all this meat, they eat the Argentine seasoning called chimichurri. This delicious sauce serves as both a spice for the taste buds and an aid to digestion of the heavy meat diet.

There are several legends concerning the source of the name chimichurri. The word which most closely represents this unusual appellation comes from the language of the Basque people from the Pyrenees mountains on the border between France and Spain. There, the word tximitxurri signifies a jumbled mix, which can be accurately applied to chimichurri. Another story, a little more far-fetched, is that the English prisoners of war during the British invasion of the Rio de la Plata in 1806, during the Napoleonic wars, asked their captors to gimme curry. This would mean that the Englishmen were already used to eating the Indian condiment with their meals, and were begging for a taste of home. This story would indicate that the seasoning mix already existed before this date, but that it went by another name. Still a third version tells of an English merchant named Jimmy Curry, who invented the recipe while visiting Argentina, and was honored by having his name given to the seasoning.

Although the origin of chimmichurri remains a mystery, it is possible that some colonist from Italy, remembering the famous pesto mix of basil, garlic and olive oil, or the French pistou of similar composition, tried to imitate the recipe. Chimichurri is based on herbs, garlic (How to mince garlic? interesting video), oil and vinegar, although the specific ingredients do vary from one recipe to another. It generally comes in two forms, dried flakes or the ready-to-use liquid sauce. While the preserved liquid version contains vinegar and/or oil (olive or soy), the dry mix has to be covered with these liquids and left a day or two to cure before being consumed. They may contain any of a dozen green herbs, such as parsley, coriander, oregano, basil, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, sage, and tarragon. Other popular ingredients are paprika, cumin, mustard seed, ground nutmeg, lemon peels, red bell pepper, and even tomatoes. Some people include hot red peppers, although this ingredient is less common.

Chimichurri can be used to marinate meat (how to marinate meat in general?) before roasting or barbecuing, it can be applied to the meat during the cooking process as a basting mix (although the traditional Argentines avoid seasoning the meat before or during the roasting), or it can be eaten as an accompanying side dish after the meat is ready. It also can be spread on toast, sprinkled over pasta or rice dishes, or used as a salad dressing. It gives a distinct flavor to omelets, sandwiches, bean dishes, and roast or grilled chicken or fish. Some people use chimichurri to season pickles, and even make a dish of tiny cooked potatoes or other vegetables seasoned with this mix. A little imagination can find many other uses for this delicious Argentine seasoning.

A basic recipe for making chimichurri includes: 50 g of finely chopped fresh garlic, or 20 g of dried granulated garlic; 75 g of fresh chopped parsley, or 30 g of dried parsley flakes; 10 g of dried oregano; 5 g of dried thyme; 5 g of dried bay leaf, ground nearly to a powder; a teaspoon of mild paprika (as opposed to the hotter variety); a dash of ground cumin; 10 g of salt; grated peel from half a lemon; 50 ml of vinegar from sherry or red wine; 100 ml of vinegar from white wine; 500 ml of olive oil; and 200 ml of water. To give this Argentine seasoning a more Brazilian flavor, some people add 500 g of finely diced tomatoes with the seeds removed; 200 g of fresh chopped onion, or 70 g of dehydrated onion flakes; and one very small red pepper, finely diced and with the seeds removed. In this version, add a little more to each of the liquid ingredients. There is no cooking involved, but the flavor is best when left to set for at least 24 hours before use.

To prepare a dry seasoning for camping, picnics, or just as an instant time-saving measure, mix 20 grams each of dehydrated parsley, garlic and onion; and 10 grams each of dried green onion (scallion) flakes, oregano, ground bay leaf and ground cayenne pepper. Store this in a jar with a sealed lid, away from sunlight (which bleaches the color from the leaves). When you want to use the mixture, add 600 ml of olive oil and 300 ml of white wine vinegar. Again, let it set before using (in this case with mostly dried ingredients, at least 48 hours) to bring out the fullest flavor. Experimentation with various other mixes can lead to your very own recipe.

Buy readymade chimichurri sauce online on Amazon

Youtube Video: Watch this wonderful video showing how to make chimichurri sauce.

Written By : David Michael (Terespolis, Brazil)

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice