06.02.09: dinner (on the virtues of chimichurri)

Pork Chops with Chimichurri, Corn and Red Cabbage Slaw

Pork Chops with Chimichurri, Corn and Red Cabbage Slaw

When we think of sauce, most people (myself included) envision slathering turkey in gravy or pasta in red sauce.  I think that this sort of unceremonious drowning makes home-cooked sauces feel somehow inelegant (“rustic”).  Sure, there’s plenty of high-end sauce work you can undertake at home on the range, but the notion of dawdling over a Bearnaise on a Tuesday night is less than appealing for many people, again, myself included.

This is why I really love salsas.  Latin American cuisine has tons of opportunities for flavorful toppings that are easy, fresh and pure-of-heart that don’t require adding veal stock and a stick of butter to your typical nightly fare.

One of my favorites is chimichurri, a sauce from South America.  The simplest version is just a blend of parsley, garlic, vegetable oil, vinegar, salt & red pepper.  Easy right?  The best thing is that even though it’s a sauce, it’s so flavorful that you need just a little of  it; it’s more like spreading butter on toast instead of pouring syrup on pancakes.  The one above is one bunch of parsley, one bunch of cilantro, about two tablespoons of vinegar, 1/4 cup oil, 3 cloves of garlic and cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

Specifics aside, the best part of all this is the customizability.  I have a favorite kind of vinegar (white balsamic) that I like to use, but which ever is your favorite (or whichever’s on hand) will work.  I like mine very zesty so I use lots of raw garlic, but again, vary as you see fit.  I don’t want to call this stuff ‘fool-proof’, but it’s darn close.  Plus, you can keep adding ingredients to the blender until it tastes correct to you.

Chimichurri is perfect for all grilled food and is a sometimes welcomed departure from traditional (sugar-laden) BBQ sauces.  It’s good to keep on hand and you can even mix it into other sauces (like my enchilada green sauce) to use it up or save prep time.  Give it a shot!

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