Sunday, September 23, 2007

Las Pampas de Denver

"The original is unfaithful to the translation" Jorge Luis Borges
As in literature, so in cooking, interpretations are always fraught with uncertainty. We often stress so much about getting it just right, that we forget a vital fact: people rarely agree on what "the original" is. Case in point, just what is chimichurri? Who's to say what is the "original" recipe?

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating an "anything goes" attitude. There's nothing I hate more than someone on TV telling me to just "put in as much as you like". If that's the case, I'll make my scrambled eggs out of potatoes! There have to be certain guidelines that help us "translate" the original, right?

Here's a basic example: Vinaigrette is 1 part vinegar (or other acid) 3 parts oil, the seasonings are more subjective. Some times it is even more basic (e.g. scrambled eggs, duh!)

I guess that was all just a long-winded disclaimer for my version of chimichurri. The herb garden is getting a bit out of hand. The oregano and thyme is going crazy so this was a great time to fire up the grill for the last day of summer. This is a pesto style sauce that is used in meat producing regions of South America. It is most often served with grilled flank steak to add a fresh and tangy kick. The key ingredients are parsley, garlic, oil and an acid.

In the recipe below, you'll want to blend in a processor the oil, garlic and vinegar with the herbs. It should be all finely chopped. Heat the butter in a pan, brown it, add the diced ingredients and cook over a medium-high heat.

1/2 C. Olive Oil
6 Cloves of Garlic
1/4 C. White Wine Vinegar
1/4 C. Cilantro
1/4 C. Parsley
2 Tbls. Fresh Oregano
3 Tbls. Fresh Thyme

3 Tbls. unsalted butter
Salt to taste.

Grill up your flank steak, just salt and pepper please. Serve with the sauce on the side and a glass of nice Argentinian red wine. If the gauchos on your block decide to critique your chimichurri, just remind them of what their compadre Borges had to say, ask them how they'd to it better, and then give them another glass of wine.

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