If you’ve ever wanted to live like an Argentinean, consider skipping the broccoli and grilling up a steak. Fueled largely by the more than 55 million heads of Argentine cattle grass-fed on the pampas (plains), the average Argentine citizen consumes more than 121 pounds of beef a year. To put that into context, the average American eats less than half of that (60.1 pounds of beef) each year.
But the Argentine approach to meat doesn’t end with simply firing up the grill. Using the spices available in this region, many residents like to enhance the rich flavor of beef with sauces that more closely resemble salsa than the barbecue sauce with which Americans tend to be more familiar. Grand Circle Program Director Pedro Porqueras of our Discover South America: Chile & Argentina vacation recently shared a recipe known for making mouths water—in Argentina and here in the U.S.
To give your favorite carnivorous dish the authentic Argentine touch, look no further than chimichurri, an easy-to-make condiment packed with flavor. This sauce is spread over sirloin, short ribs, or rump. The thickness of the sauce and flavor can be modified to taste, but olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, garlic, and herbs are key elements of a true chimichurri.
How did it get such a whimsical name? The etymology of chimichurri remains shrouded in mystery, but all of the stories agree that linguistic corruption plays a factor. Some claim that a 19th-century Englishman named Jimmy McCurry first prepared the sauce, but the native population could not pronounce his name. Others say that British engineers building Argentina’s rail system asked the local gauchos (cowboys) for ginger curry, which was heard as “chimi-churri.”
Fortunately for us, the sauce tastes delicious regardless of the true story behind its name.
½ cup olive oil
½ cup vinegar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbs. parsley, finely chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
1 sweet pepper, finely chopped
- Place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
- Cover and leave to stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours.
- Remix before serving.
Servings: The yield varies depending on how liberally one spreads chimichurri over meat. Generally yields enough for 4 servings.
Enjoy Argentina’s hearty meat dishes—and more—on our Discover South America: Chile & Argentina vacation.