Chimichurri

chimichurri recipe 1

Beef is very popular in France. And it’s not just for the taste: on more than one occasion, I’ve been told I need to eat more red meat by folks concerned about my health. (I guess I need to look in the mirror more often.) I like a good steak every once in a while, and, fortunately for meat-lovers, there are butchers in every neighborhood in Paris. In fact, there are four within a two- or three-block radius of where I live, not to mention the few at my local outdoor market.

Chimichurri

Being surrounded by so much viande, I need to keep my consumption in check so I reserve cooking beef at home for special occasions, rather than make it part of my daily diet. (Unlike chocolate.) What’s also widely available in Paris – and used extensively – are fresh herbs, particularly flat-leaf parsley and fresh mint, which are available in abundance. And it’s a rare day when I don’t return from the market with a big bunch of parsley.

Chimichurri

In France, it’s normal to have steak with some sort of sauce, perhaps béarnaise, a seasoned herb butter (beurre maître d’hôtel), butter mashed with blue cheese, or just a pot of the beloved Dijon mustard on the side. And plenty of frites, of course!

I had a friend coming over who is two weeks away from having a baby. And I guess I am becoming more Parisian than I thought, because I figured she could use some beef. So in addition to a massive côte de bœuf that Romain picked up from the butcher shop, I did some careful market shopping, getting some parsley, a bundle of vitamin-rich dandelion greens (which got tossed in a garlicky vinaigrette), a miscellaneous pepper, and two cheeses for after the meal: a sheep’s milk cheese made from lait pasteurisé, and a big chunk of nutty flavored aged Gouda.

In spite of the bounty of fresh herbs, fresh oregano remains elusive, but France is, indeed, the land of copious piles of potatoes, courtesy of Monsieur Parmentier. And when I was stocking up on les pommes de terre at the market for les frites, after I told the vendor I was cooking for a very pregnant friend, he threw in four extra spuds as a gift.

Chimichurri

The giant steak got rubbed with salt and pepper and my grill pan was ready and waiting. In anticipation, with my generous bundle of greenery, I made an olive oil-based herb sauce, chimichurri with a grilled pepper, fresh garlic, a dose of vinegar, and a bit of fresh thyme stirred into the mix.

Some versions of chimichurri sauce get pureed, but I like chunky sauces because you can taste the individual elements. Chimichurri usually contains fresh oregano (I think I’ve only see it at a market once in Paris, and it was not in pristine condition – in addition to being frightfully expensive). I am not sure why it’s such a precious commodity, but if I had a garden, or even a green thumb, I would plant some indoors or out.

Chimichurri

Chimichurri
About 1 cup (250ml), 4 to 6 servings

I’m not sure which variety of chile that I used, since they don’t label them as such in Paris, but mine was somewhat spicy. (It may be a Mirasol, or mature Anaheim chile pepper.) You can use any kind of pepper that you want, adjusting the quantity to your taste, depending on the spiciness of the variety. Jalapeños would work nicely, if available. But the chimichurris I’ve had were not necessarily spicy , so don’t overdo it. You want the flavor of the herbs and garlic to shine through.

Because fresh oregano is elusive in Paris, I used dried. If you have access to fresh oregano, by all means, use it (and skip the thyme). You should double the amount, as indicated – or add to taste.

  • 1 chile pepper
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (or twice that amount of freshly chopped leaves)
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups (15g) lightly packed leaves of flat-leaf parsley

1. In a cast iron skillet, or directly over a grill, gas flame, or under the broiler of an oven, char the pepper, turning it a few times, until the outside is blistered. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Once cool, remove the stem, split down the middle, and remove the seeds. (You can leave them in, but they may be quite spicy.) Chop half of the pepper and add it to a medium bowl. (Reserve the remaining half of the chile for another use.)

3. Add the olive oil, oregano, thyme (if using), salt, minced garlic, and paprika, and stir. Finely chop the parsley and stir it into the mixture. Taste, and add additional salt and vinegar, if desired.



Note: Although chimichurri is traditionally served with beef, it makes a fine accompaniment to lamb, can be tossed with warm pasta, and is nice swirled in soups, such as celery root soup.

Storage: Chimchurri is best served the day it is made. If necessary, it can be stored overnight at room temperature.



Related Recipes

Chimichurri (Simply Recipes)

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce (Steamy Kitchen)

Chimichurri (The Kitchn)

Chimichurri Pasta (Tea and Cookies)

51 comments

  • Oregano is falling-off-a-log simple to grow indoors in a pot. (In fact, that may be preferable, as I’ve had the plants colonize big swaths of my garden.) Just have a sunny windowsill, and a little trust!

  • Chimichurri is originally from Argentina and has now been adapted everywhere. This is the recipe given to me by my argentine mother in law. It keeps for at least two weeks in a tight jar in the fridge.

    1 head of garlic, peeled, finely chopped
    1 bunch of flat leaf parsley finely chopped
    2 bay leaves
    1/2 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
    1/2 tablespoon oregano (fresh or dried) finely chopped
    1 tablespoon of paprika
    1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
    1 cup oil
    1/2 cup red wine vinegar
    Salt to taste

    Mix all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight lid, shake well.

    You can also crush all the dry ingredients in a mortar and then add the oil and vinegar. It should be kind of chunky.

    • Yes, I’ve had it at Argentinean steak places (outside of France) but thought it’d be good with a French côte de bœuf – which it was! Instead of the hot pepper flakes, I used a chile, which I saw in a recipe (linked at the end of the post) which sounded like it would be a nice addition, and it was. Your recipe has a lot of vinegar in it – next time, I’ll add more and see if I like it. (And you have lots of paprika as well!) Thanks for sharing the recipe : )

  • Ever since I had a steak with chimichurri in Argentina, I’ve been obsessed with it. Loved to see you version and can’t wait to make it!

  • Anne is so right about ease and invasiveness of oregano.

    That said now I have something to do with those three red Anaheims still on the plant.

    Thank you!

  • In Uruguay, I found that they often added chopped capers to the Chimichurri, too. Delicious!

  • I’m going to be grilling a hunky beef tri-tip that I marinate in garlic oil and dried oregano, and I think your chimichurri sounds like an ideal sidekick. I sometimes make a chunky salsa, but I love this idea, especially if some of the sauce sloshes over onto some grilled potatoes flavored with spicy smoked paprika. Merci bien.

  • That looks ridiculously good! And I’m curious now to know why oregano is so pricey? It seems like a simple enough herb to grow. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • I don’t really know. I think perhaps because it’s not really an herb used in French cooking very much (I don’t really know any dishes that rely on it for seasoning) – it’s found in more Greek, Mexican, and South American dishes, and those don’t really intersect with French cuisine so much. Other herbs, like thyme, chives, bay leaf, parsley, mint, and often tarragon are in abundance – and people tend to use more of those in their cooking.

  • Hello David.
    Yum is what I say whenever I read your Blog!
    Oregano is a easy herb to grow in a large pot.. in fact it is better in a pot as it creeeeps everywhere if it is allowed to! Buy a pot in a plastic pot, transfer it to a larger terracotta pot, treat it mean, not too much water and in not too rich a compost, it likes free drainage so mix in a little sand and you will have it whenever you want.. a sunny spot will keep it happy.
    Sara.

  • In Uruguay, where my husband is from, chimichurri is usually made with adobo, a spice mix that includes dried oregano (and has nothing to do with Caribbean or Philippine adobo). And, like tango, Uruguayans get mighty peeved when chimichurri is described as originating in Argentina! But that’s another story…

    • Food origins are sometimes funny, and often fuzzy. The other day people were talking about cheesecake, referring to it as “American”. And I spoke up, saying that it was probably from Eastern Europe (Hungary, Poland, etc) or that part of the world (including farther east) and everyone looked at me with a look of surprised. Then they realized that I was right, that there were lots of rich “cheese” cakes from elsewhere and it wasn’t actually an “American” invention, although a version of cheesecake is made there due to immigrants and – of course – people who love cheesecake!

      Mexican food uses a lot of dried oregano and that’s interesting that Uruguayan foods use it as well. It does have a different flavor than fresh.

  • I can’t wait to try this. I love chimichuri on fresh hot empanadas.

  • Loving the down to earth approach to these recipies!

  • I love chimichurri! I don’t know if you had the chance to visit the Carmel-market in Tel Aviv when you were here but there is a great foodplace in the middle of the market and they always give a small bowl of chimichurri with their food there,so yummy:)

  • David, dear, get some seeds. Put them in a pot. Leave them outside even in the nasty winter and in the spring they’ll come up again. Really. It grows like a weed here in n. Germany, so in sunny Paris :-) it should be wild!

  • Mary Celeste had a dish a few months back of roasted komachi squash, served cold, and drizzled with chimichurri. There is no photographic evidence of me licking the plate, so I’m sticking to my story. ;-)

  • Hi David, I like the recipe but have to wait until I can get my hands on some decent beef. In my area of Germany, you have to know where to go. So question, Is this recipe be in your new book? Would be super if it was.
    I agree about the oregano, super easy to grow if you’ve got access to a patch of dirt. It always come back the next year too like mint and thyme. So go for it!

  • It’s not all that easy to find fresh oregano here– I suppose because people are so used to the dried stuff– so I substitute fresh marjoram.

  • What I LOVE with is the way the French and Belgians can (but don’t always) do a pan sauce with steak using the caramelized bits that remain in the bottom of the regular (not non-stick) frying pan used to cook the steak without butter or oil and without moving it. (Called “fond” in French, I believe.) It’s a good bit of work, with shallots, garlic, butter, red wine and many variants. Yum!

  • I love chimmichurri – it was one of the joys of my visit to Buenos Aires, along with blue cheese, dulce de leche, and beef, beef and more beef. I was wondering what the purpose of charring the pepper was, if not for skinning it.

  • If ever I get to Paris, I’ll scatter oregano seed wherever I go. Soon it will be growing in the cracks of the sidewalk, and you’ll only have to step out your door in order to have the fresh herb.

    Now for the real dilemma…will it be leg of lamb, or steak, with this lovely looking chimichurri for dinner?

  • Carla, thank you for the recipe. I am very pleased to find recipes from the source, and I’d say an Argentine mother-in-law is a reliable source. I also imagine that there are as many recipes for chimichurri as there are Argentine cooks. I’ll try yours because it matches in ingredients those that i believe are in the chimichurri served in our great local Argentinian restaurant (owned and operated by young transplanted Argentinians).

    It has no heat nor “spiciness”, is primarily green and herby and garlicky and olive oily with a bit of vinegar. They also serve it with the basket of bread that comes to the table with the menus. Delicious.

  • My ex-boyfriend is from Argentina and pretty much the only positive thing that ever came out of that relationship was obtaining his father’s chimichurri recipe! The recipe is very simple, consisting of just parsley, garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and just a touch of red wine vinegar as an optional touch. Like another poster mentioned, it is not hot or spicy and is just a strong taste of green and garlicky. I haven’t spoken to the ex-boyfriend in 12 years but I make this sauce every time I cook a steak!

  • PS. Fresh oregano is quite different from dried. The latter tends to be strong and overpowering. You really don’t want your expensive steak to taste like pizza!

  • My Argentine family keeps it even more simple- if I can get the meaty farmers market parsley I chop it with fresh garlic, hot pepper flakes and the best olive oil. That’s it.

    There is a place in Mar del Plata in Argentina that has the best chimichurri but refuses to discuss the ingredients… Not even a little hint!!

  • There’s a South American restaurant in my city that serves chimichurri with their empanadas — I’ve always wanted to know how to make it — thanks!!

  • As everyone knows by now, chimichurri has gone global! I’m happy about that because
    I’m Latin American. Years ago I was visiting Guatemala and every restaurant had chimichurri with an addition of fresh mint leaves, It was like none I ever had! Very fresh tasting. That’s how I make mine now. Curly parsley(because that’s the kind of parsley available in most Latin countries), onions, garlic, mint leaves, S&P, canola oil, and a mild vinegar. Yes, like Carla’s recipe, I use the same oil to vinegar ratio. That’s how real chimichurri should be, tart to balance the richness of the meats.

  • This longing for fresh oregano strikes me as odd. Oregano is the one herb that I prefer in the dried state. I don’t know why that is, but the flavor definitely changes in drying and, to me, it seems to have a smoother flavor than the fresh stuff.

  • David, can’t wait to try yours. We grow grass fed Angus in North Texas. I make chimmichuri and marinate my skirt steak in it before I grill it. My recipe is 1 cup red wine vinegar, 1 cup olive oil, 1 head of garlic, and 1 bunch of parsley leaves. Put all in blender or processor. I have used 1/2 cilantro 1/2 parsley. And even a bit of pineapple on occasion. I save out some for sauce and marinate the beef in the rest. It is a good recipe. Will try yours!

  • That looks lovely!

    When I was pregnant I was not up for cooking and I loved a home cooked meal.

  • To the people who are giving chimichurri recipes which state a head of garlic… do you mean the entire bulb?

    David, are there special places to go in Paris to get aged beef? Your steak looks gorgeous–marbled, as if it were aged. We gave up eating beef (except in restos) when we lived in Paris because it was so tough. At least from the markets on Oberkampf and up Voltaire around the Monoprix area. Why was the lamb so good but the beef so tough?

  • David, merci for the chimichurri recipe as I often grill a nice well aged côté de bœuf over embers in my open fire in Normandy . Nothing at all excites my French guests more than the holy grail of meat prepared lovingly over applewood embers, now they will be completely battle axed when I serve the chimichurri along side! can’t wait!!!!

  • Hey David,

    Thanks for sharing so many great recipes over the years, I can’t wait to try this one. (Just baked my all time favorite again last night — your almond cake ;)

    Send me your snail-mail address I will send you some of the BEST oregano in the world — from Pantelleria (off the coast of Sicily). Simply unbelievable stuff, imported in bulk by a friend of mine here in Portland OR.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

  • As you say, David, chimichurri’s not just good for beef. It’s having a bit of a moment here in Auckland and you can find it thrown onto all sorts of things. I spotted crispy chilli prawns with chimichurri aioli on a menu the other night. Too many different cultures in there to count, but hey, if it tastes good…

  • You’ve got me pining for Cuban food with this recipe. Since there’s not much in the way of Cuban cuisine out here in California, I was very pleased to come across “Memories of a Cuban Kitchen”. The stories in the beginning of the book are captivating.

  • Chimichurri has been on my bucket list for the longest time. Now I just have to make it. Also I was just over checking out your link to celery root soup. Can you freeze this soup? I freeze butternut squash and lentil soup, but I have never made this and it is way too much unless I had company.

    My oregano grows like a weed, but I have trouble with thyme. Not sure what I am doing wrong.

  • Thank you for that awesome version of chimichurri; can’t wait to try it. Why do I envision your pregnant friend as Mimi from Manger?

  • Thanks for these reminders of simple additions to our cooking which can make all the difference between nice and wow.
    Chimichurri will be on the menu when our French friends come over next week. Obviously I will be trying it out on some steaks tomorrow.
    I use oregano (from my plot) in Italian cooking, but my favourite is with beetroot. It just seems to work with the earthiness, Just boiled, I have to be restrained from eating half of them straight away while peeling instead of giving it to the guests!
    If there is any left, a stout horseradish sauce works wonderfully. (Have you sorted out a supply of fresh horseradish yet David?)
    The seaside edge of the county where I live now was famous for fish smoking and there are still a few artisnale smokers around, and it makes a fine lunch or starter come to that.
    My favourite is en papilotte, little parcels with smallish beets, oregano, olive oil, balsamic, garlic and seasoning then tied up in greaseproof paper. Usual benefits from the technique – minimum mess and maximum aroma and flavour when opened at the table.

  • Cyndy: It’s not common to find aged beef in France (because the aging process, for beef rassis, is somewhat expensive as it takes time and space, and reduces the moisture in beef, which raises the price) although there are some butchers, and restaurants like Le Sèvero, that serve it. I don’t find côte de bœuf as tough as other cuts of meat, although you need to have a few people/a group to serve it to!

    Nick + Caroline: Contrary to common beliefs, although some French people aren’t fond of spicy foods, people loved this sauce and I think the meat tempers the heat a little. You can, of course, dial it up and down in terms of heat depending on the chile used. (And Nick, my friends at Verjus gave me fresh horseradish the last time they got some. In between times, I have a jar on hand that I get at the German épicerie.)

    Madonna: Yes, that soup can certainly be frozen.

    Jeff: I bring back Mexican oregano when I go back to California, but I am going back to Sicily later this year so will look for that as well. Glad you like that cake!

  • I used the same idea of a Chimichurri. Though modified.
    Try 10 roasted garlic cloves and mashed
    20 basil leaves chiffonade
    dried pepper flakes
    1 spring of thyme
    good olive oil to cover

    Let sit for a couple of hours and then use like the Chimichurri sauce. I like topping with fried shallots.

  • Mexican oregano is a completely different plant from European oregano — it’s a kind of verbena and has a different and stronger taste. European oregano grows like a weed in my garden in the Loire Valley, but its taste is subtle at best. I like the Mexican plant and bring it back, in dried form, from the U.S.

  • Have made chimichurri twice; the first time chopped and the second pureed and the chopped one was infinitely better, could not agree more.

  • Argentinian chimichurri with french viande…oh c’est chic!

  • Mexican oregano has completely taken over my basil bed — I’ve got to move it to another part of my garden — it grows like a weed!

  • Oh, I love chimichurri! If it is spicy at all, think Italian spicy, not the heat of Mexican or other “hot” Latin American cuisines. Rioplatense cookery, whether in Argentina or little Uruguay, is based mostly on northern Italian and northern Spanish foods. But of course you can do as you will.

    Since an Argentine friend of mine became eligible for her pension, she spends her northern winter down there where it is full summer. It is a long way from Montréal – almost the length of the American continent – but still she saves by living down there, alas due to the economic woes of her native country.

    At my previous flat in Petite-Italie, Montréal, as well as a beautiful grape arbour (though with nasty “foxy” Northeastern NA grapes), there was a little garden patch for me, as the elderly Italian lady downstairs couldn’t work the tiny plot of land any more. The oregano I planted there survived the Montréal winter and came back every year.

    I have very good dry oregano from Greece. I love this herb both fresh and dry, as well as flatleaf basil (fresh), of course.

    15cm of snow here… worse farther east. Merde!

  • My butcher in Narbonne sells “côte de boeuf rassis de 15 jours, tendre comme mon coeur”. I like to brown it quickly all over in butter in a cast-iron poele and then finish it off in the oven, with roast potatoes in another dish. Makes a wonderful, simple sauce like that, and beautifully tender.

  • Chimichurri is terrific in lots of dishes! I add a spoonful of chimichurri to many soups just before serving – lentil or bean or pea soup for example. Use it like pesto for a zesty pasta dish. Add it to cooked vegetables – eggplant or zucchini or green beans, especially. Spread it on breads, stir it into humus or tehina with it. I have smeared it onto chicken pieces before roasting or fish before baking. You can make a nice cold rice & veg salad or cous cous salad with some chimichurri seasoning.

  • Oregano is so easy to grow! Sunshine and a bit of water now and then. Cut it back at least once a year and wait for it to grow again. It will just keep spreading. Buy a plant or two for friends with gardens-I am sure they would share the harvest with you for so doing.

  • I tried it at an Argentinian restaurant and was wondering the recipe since then! I’m so glad I found it. I’m thinking of a naughty recipe with it.

    Thanks a lot!

    Xx
    Aslı

  • I like the more parsley less oregano plan. It is probably too much oregano which often gives chimichurri a bitter taste. I adore parsley! Favorite way to use it is in an omelet with goat cheese and sauteed mushrooms.