You’ve almost certainly heard of chimichurri sauce…but what’s chimichurri, exactly? Chimichurri is a strong, savory Argentine sauce served with grilled meats and containing a blend of dried or fresh herbs and spices (such as finely chopped raw garlic, curly or flat leaf parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, and / or cilantro); an oil (typically extra-virgin olive oil); and a tangy acid (typically vinegar, like red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar) to help balance out the rich flavor of meat. Chimichurri can be compared to salsa verde and – much like Mexican salsas – it comes in varieties like green chimichurri and red chimichurri.
There are many competing legends about the origins of chimichurri sauce. According to one claim, during the unsuccessful early-19th century British invasion of Rio de la Plata, a waterway separating modern day Argentina from Uruguay, captured British soldiers wanting condiments said, “Give me the curry,” which the Argentines heard as “chimichurri.” According to yet another tale, Jimmy McCurry, an Irish immigrant in 19th century Argentina, was so homesick for Worcestershire sauce – a United Kingdom condiment featuring garlic and vinegar among other ingredients – that he invented a similar sauce with local ingredients. Eventually, as the legend goes, this new “Jimmy McCurry” sauce somehow morphed, given the Argentine accent, into the name “chimichurri.” Whatever the truth behind those interesting stories, chimichurri origins in Argentina began with when the gauchos (Argentine cowboys) cooked their meat over open fires. As Francis tells it, these gruff gauchos of old, who ate meat and little else, would keep bottles of chimichurri sauce handy in the saddles of their horses. Today, chimichurri is unquestionably Argentina’s “national sauce for meat,” in Francis’ words.
There’s no such thing as one authentic chimichurri recipe, as many people make chimichurri sauce differently. But the main herbs in green chimichurri sauce are fresh or dried oregano leaves and finely chopped parsley. Fresh herbs like fresh cilantro are sometimes used, as are bay leaves, which are part of Frabcis’ chimichurri sauce recipe.Green chimichurri also usually includes extra-virgin olive oil or regular olive oil, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar or lemon juice, crushed red pepper flakes or spicy chili flakes, and kosher salt and pepper. Additional options for ingredients for a chimichurri recipe include finely-chopped shallots or red onions. Red bell peppers and tomatoes are sometimes included in red chimichurri sauce.