Just listen to the word. Chimichurri. It dances right out of your mouth. I bet you've already paused and said it in your head more times than I've written it. If the word alone feels this good in the mouth, wait until you taste it.
Chimichurri is an Argentine sauce that is traditionally used on meats, although I can think of about fifty other ways to eat it. It’s used in Argentina the way we use ketchup in the U.S., except that it’s often made fresh and is far more delicious.
I remember my first encounters with chimichurri — it was as a kid in Los Angeles at a neighborhood Argentine restaurant called Gaucho Grill where there was always a little pot of it on the table. Having very little self-control, I would plow through the bread basket and chimichurri if my parents didn't take it away.
This is one of those recipes to double and keep for leftovers. Drizzle it on grilled meats. Serve it instead of butter alongside hunks of warm peasant bread. Spread it on sandwiches. Dip vegetables into it. Use it as the fat for scrambling eggs. Fine, eat it with a spoon.
My version below is inspired by one of the first chefs who ever moved me: Judy Rodgers of San Francisco's Zuni Café. She passed away last week at the age of fifty-seven.
Makes 1 cup
1 small jalapeño pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 dried bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley or cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, rosemary or thyme (or a combination)
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the jalapeño pepper over the flame of your stove or under the broiler until the skin starts to blister and develop black spots, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove the stem and seeds. Chop the pepper (skin and all) and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat until bubbling slightly, but not yet smoking. Remove from heat and add the chopped jalapeño along with the rest of ingredients. You will hear a melodious sizzle. Allow to sit, covered at room temperature, for 2 hours before using. Keeps for up to 5 days tightly covered and chilled.