Here’s something green for the grill, a zest and a zing, a powerful condiment to match the big, bold flavors of fire-cooked food. While the origins of the sauce are muddled and murky, the flavor is bright and clear. “Chimichurri” is another one of those words that has undergone so many transformations that the original source has been muddied by conflicting stories and origin tales. Some credit to Argentina, where is finds a home on the grilled meats that country is famous for; one tale has it as a phonetic translation of the Basque word tximitxurri, which, loosely translated, means “a mixture of things in no particular order.”
Another possibility includes a mysterious meat wholesaler with the name of Jimmy Curry, whose name was slurred by time to what we hear today. Food scholar and chef Staffan Terje points out that chimichurri is also “practically identical to the Sicilian salmorglio sauce.”
While the Sicilian version is used mainly on seafood and vegetables, chimichurri has found favor on grilled meats as well, as barbecue has become increasingly popular in the last few decades.
With such a colorful history, there are of course multiple recipes and styles of this versatile sauce. Some contain red pepper flakes, anchovies, capers, or vinegar as well; in any case, the ingredients are blended and served over just about anything. Here’s what we’re grilling with these days. Feel free to add your own unique ingredients, as seasons and taste buds change; history has shown that this is a very adaptable sauce. Wherever it comes from.
Makes about a pint of chimichurri.
Combine the herbs, alliums, pepper, and lemon zest in a blender. Squeeze the lemon juice and our the olive oil over the top and blend until smooth.
Spoon the chimichurri sauce over freshly grilled meats, with seafood or vegetables, or use as a dipping sauce. It’s brilliant as a dressing for fresh peas when combined with yogurt, as well.
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