Shortly after my trip to Israel, Frankie and I decided to spend the evening at the Culinary Fight Club: Pitmasters event that took place in the parking lot of The Hard Rock Cafe! We went for an early celebration of our 8 year anniversary together (and little did I know then, an early celebration of our engagement to take place two weeks later), and while I won’t spend a bunch of time talking about the event itself, I did learn a very valuable lesson on chimichurri. I’ve been making it wrong this whole time. So quick back track to the event, just to give as brief a snapshot as I can: WOW. Not wow, or Wow, but WOW! It was a WHIRLWIND of running to get ingredients, of chefs & their team prepping various dishes and components, and all the while chefs are taking photos with fans, talking about their game plan, talking about their own restaurants, joking around with the friends who had come out to support them, and all the while, the smells made my stomach grumble with anticipation.
Thankfully, Hard Rock Cafe offered numerous little morsels to munch on while we waited for the end of the two hour cooking time, judging, and our own turn to sample (and because there were maybe only fifty or so people there, a lot of us got seconds, and if you were lucky, thirds of the samples being handed out). That night, I had, I want to say, the best bite of fish (Texas Red Drum) I’ve ever had by chef Kristina Gaardbo & her husband Greg, both of whom own and run the Chicago Culinary Kitchen in Palatine (only open on the weekends till they’re sold out!), and I also sampled the best chimichurri I’ve ever had, courtesy of chef Dylan Lipe, the executive chef of Budlong Hot Chicken in Lincoln Square.
But the trick and key to making chimichurri? NO CILANTRO!
Apparently, cilantro is not authentic to a true Argentinian based chimichurri sauce, but rather parsley & oregano are the two main partners in this dish! WHO WOULD HAVE THUNK, and while normally I would think anything with cilantro in it is delicious, I am no longer of that mind set when it comes to chimichurri. Now, I make about a jar full of this stuff, and will dabble it on almost anything I can for that week, because as the herbs sit in the olive oil (I always let it come to room temperature before serving, or give it a quick heat on the stove over a very low flame for a minute), everything melds together more, mellowing out the initial grassiness of the parsley. With a slight of hand with some salt, pepper, chili flakes, and a little garlic and vinegar, then BA BAM! Authentic chimichurri. My additional trick that I picked up was to blend the mixture to get a creamier consistency, but you don’t have to blend it if you don’t want to, especially if keeping with authentic presentation, but I just loved the creamy texture that Chef Lipe presented with his meat at the Culinary Fight Club.
So if you like chimichurri, and haven’t tried it this way yet, DEFINITELY DO SO! It’ll be a game changer, no doubt about it! Oh, and if you haven’t checked out Culinary Fight Club, definitely take a gander and maybe even go to an event! It’s well worth the price for the amount of delicious food you get to enjoy! —Cooking Maggie
Authentic Chimichurri Sauce
- 2 cups packed Italian flat-leaf parsley (about 1-2 bunches)
- 1/2-1 cup packed fresh oregano (if you’re not the biggest fan of oregano, stick to 1/2 cup, but I love it, so I go a full 2:1 ratio with the herbs)
- 4 garlic cloves
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar