My new favorite South American condiment

July 25, 2007 · 1 comment

I suppose that headline begs the question: did I have a previously-reigning favorite South American condiment? The answer is no, unless you count my frequent use of sour cream to top a quesadilla. And I can’t really abandon the geographical modifier, because it might be going too far to say that this topping is my new all-around favorite. So I’ll keep the specifics, and allow this food item to be dethroned by a future spicy, south-of-the-border discovery.

Scene One:
Last weekend we tried a new recipe sourced from another food blogger, the Reluctant Gourmet. His posts containing recipes for Grilled Pork with Chimichurri Sauce and Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Banana and Pineapple had my mouth watering and my hand writing the grocery list. Chimichurri sauce sounded familiar to me, but I’ve definitely never made it. It is apparently a common condiment in Argentina, used to marinate and dress grilled meats and sausages. The RG post describes something about Argentinian families always having it on the table, and when they run out, someone jumps up and makes more, because apparently they just can’t be at the table without it.

I can’t say that I blame them. While making it, I was reminded of making pesto, but you use fresh parsley instead of basil (some recipes call for cilantro, but I’m one of those people who is genetically predisposed to think cilantro tastes just like a bar of soap, so I’ll stick with the parsley), and it calls for a good bit of vinegar. It’s a lot more watery than pesto, too. With no nuts. Actually, I’m now beginning to wonder if it bears any resemblance to pesto at all, but for the fact that its primary ingredient is an herb and I use my food processor to make it.

Anyway, while the Grilled Pork with Chimichurri was a bit disappointing (only because it was too salty… I think the tenderloin we used came pre-salted, and topped with a salted marinade, it was over-the-top), the actual sauce itself was fresh, zippy, kicky, and worthy of another vehicle. So we put the leftovers (obviously, the portion that did not come in contact with raw pork) in the fridge for future experimentation.

Scene Two:
Yesterday I made Brazilian Black Beans, from the Joy of Cooking. This has been a regular on our menu for years. Cheap, delicious, and very versatile. Per usual, on the day I make a batch, we just eat them on top of rice, topped with sour cream, scallions, etc. On a good day, I fry a plantain to serve on the side. I didn’t have a plantain yesterday, and we were out of sour cream (insert gasp), so I found myself staring into my refrigerator, looking for inspiration. My eyes landed on the chimichurri. I drizzled a good couple of tablespoons on top of the beans, and then added a layer of Pickled Red Onions (these must be covered in a future post… don’t knock them until you’ve tried them!) on top of that. Explosive flavor ensued, my heart leaped with suppertime joy.

So as you think about grilling this weekend, be it pork, poultry, or beef, whip up a batch of chimichurri to top it. You will most definitely not be disappointed.

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