Chimichurri – A South American Green Herbal Rub For Grilling

By David Hugonin

Chimichurri is a kind of green sauce, also used as a marinade, for grilled meat. It is originally from Argentina but is now used in countries as far north as Mexico and has gained popularity in the USA and particularly Europe where it is now quite easily found.

Chimichurri is from Argentina and to some extent from Uruguay and is a very popular sauce used with grilled meat in many Latin American countries.

It is said that the unusual name comes from Jimmy McCurry, an Irishman who is said to have first prepared the sauce. He was marching with the troops of General Jasson Ospina in the 19th century, sympathetic to the cause of Argentine independence. The sauce was popular and the recipe was passed on. However, Jimmy McCurry was awkward for the native people to say. Some sources claim Jimmy’s sauce’s name was corrupted to Chimichurri, while others say it was changed in his honour.

Other similar stories abound about the origins of the name. One involves Jimmy Curry, an English meat importer; Another a Scot, James C. Hurray, travelling with gauchos; and yet another involving an English family in Patagonia overheard by the group of Argentinians that were with saying “give me the curry” to a waiter restaurant and the waiter had no idea what they were asking for. All the stories share an English speaking colonist and the corruption of names or words by the local population.

Traditionally Chimichurri is made from finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, white or red vinegar, and red pepper flakes but nowdays the recipe has been augmented with additional flavourings such as Paprika, Oregano, Cumin, Thyme, Coriander, Lemon, and Bay Leaf which makes it a far more versatile mix than its origins dictate.

It is usually the only seasoning for steak and chorizo sausages in the well known Argentinian Asado. This mix can also be used as a marinade fro grilled meat however, rather than a dry rub.

Asado is a term used for both for a barbecue technique and also the event where it is held. This is an Argentinian custom but has spread throughout Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay. Asado usually consists of various grilled or barbecued meats, Beef being almost obligatory, which are cooked on a grill called a Parilla or over an open fire.

The preparation is likely a mixture of Spanish and Italian methods, a general reflection of Argentine society as a whole. The essential elements of chimichurri are common to both Spain and Italy. The overall compositions, taste and preparation are similar to French persillade however.

Simply mix 2 tablespoons of a Chimichurri mix with a little olive oil, wine or distilled vinegar and some lemon juice to make either a marinade or meat rub. It is usually quite hot

Chimichurri is a culinary herbal treat from South America for lovers of grilled meats with that extra flavour. Try out our blog for more info on all sorts of things culinary, herbal and aromatic

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