When you are serving steak, it seems that most of us have our preferred sauces. Growing up, I really loved those red or brown bottled sauces, you know, ketchup or A-1. Every now and again I get a hankerin’ for steak with ketchup; it’s a comfort combo for me.
But grown-ups should pay attention to the “must-have” sauces of the Argentinians. The sauces are simple enough. Some would even call them relishes, as they are chopped vegetables, mixed with vinegar and olive oil. Everyone we met in Argentina, the most beef-loving folks I have ever had the pleasure to dine with, insist that two sauces must be on the table when serving grilled meats or empanadas – Salsa chimichurri and salsa criolla.
Salsa Criolla & Salsa Chimichurri
Salsa criolla is pretty straight forward. Chop up one red bell pepper, one onion, season with salt and pepper and add a 1/4 cup each (60ml) of olive oil and vinegar (PS. look no further for the recipe in this post…It’s so simple) That’s it!
Why it is called criollo or a Creole sauce is vague…I am sure it has to do with the bell pepper, as the Capsicum family of plants is from the New World. Europeans moving to Argentina would not have brought this sauce with them, but they did bring the onions. Hence, a new tradition was born of of two culinary cultures, a Creole sauce.
Salsa chimichurri is a bit more complicated, but is still based in an olive oil and vinegar combination. I have given the recipe below. The sauce tastes better when made a day ahead of time.
But I also wanted to draw your attention to a local way that we make chimichurri here in the Rio Grande Valley. In no way should it be considered authentic Argentinian chimichurri. Usually it is serves with toasted tortillas in Mexican restaurants, and its flavor is rich and robust, reminiscent of aged cheese. The list of ingredients is exactly the same, but locally we make the chimichurri in a blender.
It’s not really Chimichurri, but I love it!
By comparison to a hand chopped sauce, making chimichurri in a blender is completely shameful, and absolutely inauthentic. But dang, I just love it. It is really more of a spicy aioli. And if you try it, you will like it too.
The recipe below does not change one iota in ingredients, but the technique for combining the ingredients does. Try both ways, and see which one you like better. As for me, I like them all way better than any bottled
Salsa Criolla is easy to make
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 26 servings
- Category: Sauces
- Cuisine: Argentina
1/3 cup peeled garlic (about 25 cloves (1.5oz /42gr))
1 oz. parsley (28gr)
.5 oz fresh oregano (14gr) *
1 tbsp. dried red pepper flakes (6gr)
1 1/2 cups red wine or apple cider vinegar (350ml)
2 tsp. salt (8gr)Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 1/2 – 3 cups olive oil
To make hand chopped authentic Salsa Chimichurri as it is made in Argentina:
Hand chop the parsley, oregano and garlic until it is finely minced, and place in a 2 qt. mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and add whisk in the olive oil and red wine vinegar. The chimichurri is ready to serve, although it is better when made a day in advance.
To make a blended chimichurri that is completely inauthentic, but amazing on steak, tacos, eggs and spooned over salads:
Add the garlic, parsley, pepper flakes, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the container of a blender. Blend until smooth. Open the top feed hole of the blender, and slowly drizzle the olive oil into the spinning vortex of the blender. The sauce should thicken. Serve immediately.
Because the blender version of this sauce is an emulsion, it may separate when left overnight in the refrigerator. You can always homogenize the separated emusion with an immersion blender or conventional blender.
*The blender version may require more olive oil than the hand chopped, traditional chimichurri. aAlso, the blender version doesn’t usually include oregano, but you can add it if you like.