The gauchos or South American cowboys are the originators of this meat grilling tradition from Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. You'll find this from a lot of Latin American countries where they barbeque all sorts of meat including chicken, sausage, pork and plenty of others.
I first had a dish similar to this in Miami at a Nicaraguan restaurant years back. It was a steak, like the one in the recipe here, served with the signature chimichurri sauce. We have a good Nicaraguan steak place or churraqueria near us, but I like making it myself. I think it's better.
I use outside skirt steak. You can try others, but the outside skirt, sometimes labeled as just plain skirt steak, is what I think works best. I've heard some people say that getting the chimichurri right take a lot of practice. I'm not thinking it's that scientific. Follow my recipe using a good food processor for chopping and stirring it up and you'll be impressing even your pickiest guests.
I typically serve these with mariquitas or plantain chips, gallo pinto or what we Cubans call congris made with red beans and maduros or sweet plantains. We get these at our nearby Nicaraguan restaurant, but you can get the mariquitas at stores in the potato chip section. In a future post, I'll publish my mother-in-laws congris recipe that's to die for.
A good medium or full bodied red wine is what I recommend. It goes well with the steak and the bitter and acidic chimichurri. My preference is an Argentinian Malbec. Why not given that churrasco originates down there? I find Malbec reds have lower tannins than a Cabs or Syrah/Shiraz which makes them a really good match for this dish.
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- 2 lbs of outside skirt steak. You don't usually have to trim the fat, but if it does come with a thick layer of fat on one side, remove it.
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 jalapeño peppers. Makes sure and remove the seeds. This should not be a hot sauce.
- 2 cups of fresh cilantro leaves and stems. I get it in bunches at the store, which is about the right amount. I use what's left aftercutting off the harder stems towards the bottom.
- 1 cup of fresh Italian parsley leaves and stems. Make sure to use a little about half as much parley as you do cilantro.
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Juice from a large lemon
- 2 tbsp oregano leaves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/3 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- In a food processor, add the garlic, jalapeño peppers and onions. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.
- Add the cilantro, parsley, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Pulse until finely chopped.
- Turn the processor and slowly add the olive oil making sure it's thoroughly mixed. Let it spin for about a minute so it gets thoroughly chopped into a creamy mixture.
- Reserve a cup of the mixture for marinating the steaks. Set aside and refrigerate the rest for serving at the table.
- Skirts steaks can come in 12 to 16 inch pieces. Cut them into 4 to 6 inch strips which is about the serving size per person.
- Put your steaks into a large resealable plastic bag with the reserved cup of chimichurri. Make sure to each steaks is soaked with the mixture. Seal the bag and refrigerate for about 4 hours. (If you don't have time, don't sweat it. They'll turn out just fine.)
- Prepare the grill at 450 to 550. Take the steaks out of the bag and grill over direct heat with the lid closed. It will take 5 to 6 minutes for medium rare. Turn the steaks once midway at the 2:30 to 3 minute mark to get well marked grill lines.
- Serve while still hot.
At table, encourage each person to add a good amount of chimichurri, about a tablespoon or two, to their steak. That's they way they taste best.