Monday, June 30, 2008

Cuban Churrasco with Chimichurri Sauce

I'm from New England and really consider that to be home, but in reality I've lived in FL longer than anywhere else (over 17 years now). When I first moved here I'll admit to being less than impressed with the food offerings, but then I was 19 and just being stubborn. I've really never been a picky eater, my father was a chef and my mother an excellent cook, so if there's any pickiness to my taste, it's just for quality ingredients and well prepared foods. I slowly warmed to the local cuisine and discovered Cuban food... that was it... I fell in love.

Before anyone comments that churrasco and chimichurri are not Cuban in origin, let me just say that I am aware of that. It's Argentinian or Brazilian, depending on the type of churrasco we're talking about, but the Cubans happen to have a very good version of it also, and that's what I have here today. The 2 main differences are in the marinade for the meat and the fact that the Cuban version of chimichurri contains cilantro as opposed to the traditional flat leaf parsley. I actually like to use a combination of both parsley and cilantro, but you can use either one.

And yes, those are roasted potatoes again, not very traditional, but we love them :)

Marinate 3 to 6 lbs of skirt or plate steak in the following for 8 to 24 hours:

10 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour orange juice*
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mash the garlic and salt into a paste using mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with the side of a knife. Stir in the juice, oil,onion and oregano.

*You can find bottled sour orange juice, or naranja agria, in the latin section of most grocery stores, but if not just use equal parts fresh lime and orange juice.

Remove the steaks and marinade from the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to grill them. Grill over a VERY hot fire for about 4 minutes per side for medium rare (recommended doneness for this meat). The fire should be hot enough that you can't hold your hand over it for more than a few seconds, this will allow you to get a nice char on the meat.

Remove from the grill and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Slice thinly on a diagonal across the grain and serve with chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce

3-6 cloves garlic (to taste)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
juice of one lime
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1-2 Tbs chopped jalapeƱos (I use the jarred ones)
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Put everything except the oil in a blender and pulse until you have a thick mixture. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the olive oil, you don't want to do this in the blender, it will emulsify. Taste and add more salt, pepper, vinegar and lime juice as desired.

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