How to Make: Chimichurri


Ah, chimichurri – the most fresh and malleable of condiments.

I’d guess most everyone has had a version of chimichurri at some point; for those who haven’t – think of it as a herb salsa that feels most at home atop grilled meats.

Chimichurri is Argentinian in origin and the traditional flavor profile is herby, fresh, and tangy thanks to tons of parsley, cilantro, oregano and vinegar.

The short list of ingredients and loose proportions make chimichurri a wonderful thing to make at home because you can adjust the flavors to your liking and sub in whatever herbs you have left over from another nights cooking.

Now, just because chimichurri is traditionally poured atop a grilled steak doesn’t mean it’s locked into that role. When I sat down to make a list of meals that chimichurri would enhance, I got overwhelmed by the options – there are just that many.

    What to do with Chimichurri

  • Drizzle over any grilled meat
  • On eggs in the morning
  • As a burger spread
  • In burritos/tacos
  • As a salad dressing
  • As a summery, fresh pasta sauce
  • Over roasted veggies or potatoes
  • As a tangy drizzle on top of a savory soup
  • As a marinade
  • Ad infinitum

Almost any food can be boosted by the simple mixture of herbs and acid. Whip up a batch and try it on a variety of foods throughout the week and I promise you’ll be turning all your leftover herbs into chimichurri on a regular basis.

Bonus: Chimichurri lasts about a week in the fridge but you take any that is leftover and pour it into an ice cube mold to freeze it. Later, you can drop the frozen cubes into soup as a flavor booster, or just microwave and re-use as fresh.


Here are some recipes for chimichurri to get you inspired. Next, read through my rules, steps, and guidelines so the next time you make a chimichurri, you won’t need to follow a recipe, and you can build your own version to your tastes and pantry.

Argentine Chimichurri Sauce (via Chow) – This one is very traditional and features only parsley and oregano.
Chimichurri Sauce (Via Bonappetit) – This one is the recipe pictured in this post. It uses a mix of parsley, cilantro and oregano. It also includes a shallot, which might inspire you to add some red onion to your own batch.
Mark Bittman’s Chimichurri Sauce (via Food & Wine) – This one uses parsley as the only herb but switches out the traditional vinegar for lemon juice. Another acid idea: orange juice.
Chimichurri Sauce (via Martha Stewart) – Martha goes a little off the rails here by using parsley, basil, chives, dill, and mint. Her only acid is some lemon zest. for those not looking for much tang this might be a great option. This combo of herbs feels so incredibly spring to me and would be so good atop small roasted potatoes and asparagus.

So the traditional recipe for chimichurri is simply parsley, garlic, fresh oregano, red wine vinegar, salt & pep, olive oil, and red pepper flakes but feel free to play around with the herb choice, acid, and heat source.

    Core Chimichurri Ingredients (makes about 1 to 1 ½ cups)

  • 3/4 to 1 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups Parsley/Cilantro/Herb mix
  • ¼ to ½ cup acid (vinegar, lemon, etc.)
  • 3-4 gloves garlic
  • A teaspoon or two of heat (mined peppers, red pepper flakes, sriracha, etc.)
    Core Chimichurri Steps

  1. Add all ingredients minus the oil to a food processor and pulse until finely minced
  2. Slowly drizzle in oil, pulsing the food processor at the same time. Take the time to scrap down the sides with a spatula every so often
  3. Allow to rest/chill for at least an hour

(you could use a mortar and pestle or just a sharp knife and some patience if you dont have a food processor)

    Core Chimichurri Rules & Guidelines

  • Use soft herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil,) not hard (rosemary, sage). Hard herbs wont break up enough in the food processor and the end result might be grainy or (in the case of rosemary) stabby.
  • Keep things nice and tangy by adding in enough acid (ie: vinegar, lemon juice, etc.)
  • Make sure you add enough oil. You want the herbs to be swimming in oil a little bit. It should not be so dry that it could be called a paste
  • Allow the sauce to rest before using. This allows the herb flavors to really develop and mellows out the acid a bit
  • Blend to your desired smoothness. There are no hard and fast rules on how mined your sauce should be. You could leave it pretty chunky or puree until nearly smooth, whatever feels good to you.
  • As with everything, always taste your sauce and adjust the salt, pepper, and acid to your liking.

As is the point of this blog, I encourage you to use the info above to get creative and come up with your own version of Chimichurri and ways of using it. Next week I’ll show you how I’ve taken the core ingredients and techniques to make a chimichurri all my own.

Adios!

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Consume : One


This is not a great picture, but there are two of these trees right outside my front door. I’ll crack jokes about them to my husband: “look at these freaking’ show offs” and complain about the bees the flowers bring, but man, it’s such a nice sight first thing in the morning.

Reading: Half a Life by V.S. Naipaul – I’ve just started this short book. I bought it on a whim a few months ago and it has been sitting on my shelf waiting for me to make the time for it. I am largely uneducated on India and its’ cultures, but the few books I have read which feature Indian protagonists challenge me to see past my own cultural perspective concerning “expressing oneself”. In this book–and others–emotion is expressed (or rather, decidedly not expressed) subtly; all is held at arms length. Given my own emotional excess, falling into such stoic viewpoint feels like putting on an ill-fitting shirt. But, that is why we read, right?

Watching: Better Call Saul. Oh goodness. I read a review somewhere that said: “Good news guys! It’s a Fraiser!” A truer review could not be written.

Eating: Salads, womp womp. I’m trying this whole “eat a salad everyday” thing for health and for vanity. The secret: it’s gotta be crunchy and the salad dressing better be as acidic as I can tolerate. This is my go-to: French Vinaigrette (sometimes I leave out the anchovy if I’m in a hurry).

Making:
Baked Chickpeas With Pita Chips & Yogurt
Roasted Strawberry & Dumpling Cake
Orange Margarita Cocktail

How to Make: Quiche (Pt. II)

So we have crust down, now it’s time for fillings. So what, besides a crust, makes a quiche a quiche?

First, quiche is not a crusted frittata. The proportion of ingredients is quite different between the two: frittata is egg-heavy and has just a little (or no) dairy, while quiche doesn’t have much egg but does have quite a bit of dairy.

Heavy cream, I’m looking at you.

That mix of eggs with a lot of dairy? It’s called a custard and it’s used in like a million tasty ways. Now, there are plenty of recipes out there there calling themselves quiche when they are really just frittatas sittin’ in a lying crust. Pay these recipes no head. We are here today to make a real quiche.

    Core Quiche Ingredients

  1. 1 to 1½ cup Dairy
  2. 2 to 4 Large Eggs
  3. 4 to 8 oz Cheese (this is technically optional)
  4. 1 Crust (flour, butter, salt, water)
  5. 2+ cups mix of veggies, aromatics, and meats

Guys, look at that list. Do you not always have those things in the fridge? Quiche is one of those things you can pretty make with whatever you have.

    Top Five Quiche Rules

  1. High quality, high-fat dairy – This can be heavy cream, half and half, or a mix of those with regular milk. Use what you have. (I wouldn’t suggest using just regular milk if you can avoid it)
  2. Pre-cook & season all your vegetables, aromatics, and meats.
  3. Allow all mixings-in to release their liquids in the pre-cooking. You want a ruined quiche? Add watery ingredients.
  4. Make your own awesome butter-crust.
  5. Um, cheese.

    Core Quiche Steps

  1. Make crust & let chill
  2. Par-bake crust & let cool (see previous post)
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350
  4. Pre-cook veggies/meats until they are cooked through and have released their juices. Be sure to thoroughly season
  5. Whisk together the milk(s), eggs, some salt & pep, and any herbs/spices
  6. Put cooked veggies/meats on top of par-baked crust
  7. Top with cheese
  8. Pour over egg/milk mixture
  9. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until set (wiggle the pan – if it’s pretty stable then its’ probably done).
  10. Let cool

Other notes:

Notice, the fillings take up most of the crust before the milk is added,. You’re going to want to shoot for a similar volume of fillings when you create your own version of quiche.
You can make a crustless quiche, if you want. Just skip all the crust steps and pour the mixings-in, cheese, and custard mix directly into your baking dish (but, psst, the crust is the best part).
What baking dish to use? Something shallow-ish but not too shallow. I’d say it needs to be at minimum an 1 inch deep. They have special fluted pans to make quiche in but you could use a regular pie pan. It also doesn’t have to be circle, you’ll see square or rectangle quiche-like items labeled “tarts”, but most of the time those are just quiches of a different shape.

And so that’s it! It’s such an easy meal that is endlessly customizable. Quiche is also a great way to use up odds and ends. You can just jump right in and follow the basic steps using whatever flavors you feel like combining or, if you’re nervous, follow a recipe your first time around. Here are the the same three recipes I linked in the crust post:

Spinach & Goat Cheese Quiche
Bacon & Leek Quiche (the photos in this post were taken while cooking this one)
Roasted Vegetable Quiche

But, I highly encourage you to go off the books and just use the core ingredient and core steps lists above to guide you.

Next week I will show you how I’ve taken these steps and general guidelines to create a quiche all my own too.

How to Make: Quiche (Pt. I)

I want to teach you how to make quiche. Dont misunderstand me, I dont want to share a quiche recipe with you, I want to show you quiche’s bones. I want you and quiche to become intimate. I want you to be able to be like “oh man I want quiche tonight” and be able to make that happen like it’s no bigs.

Quiche is a two part deal: the crust & the filling.

Today I am going to break down how to make a savory butter pie crust. It’s not hard, I promise. And you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen already, which is cool.

So here are some quiche recipes that I’ll be going over in the next post, each has their own slightly different version of crust. For your first run-through just pick one and follow the steps to pie shell success. Next, read through my core ingredients, rules, and steps so that next time you make a savory pie dough, you wont need to follow a recipe at all.

Spinach & Goat Cheese Quiche
Bacon & Leek Quiche
Roasted Vegetable Quiche

    Core Savory Pie Crust Ingredients

  1. Cold Butter
  2. All-Purpose Flour
  3. Ice Water
  4. Egg
  5. Salt


Now, baking is finicky (science!) so it’s easiest to find a recipe you like and stick to it instead of riffing too hard. But if you’re really in the riffing kind of mood these are the average proportions for one pie crust that I found in my extensive pie research. Play around, see what you like.

1 ½ – 2 Cups flour
1 – 1 ¼ sticks butter
1 egg
2-3 tablespoons water
pinch of salt

    Rules for Savory Pie Crusts

  1. Keep your butter cold. – You don’t want your butter to fully melt into the flour. The little pockets of butter keep the crust light and flakey and amazing. If the butter gets too warm you’re gonna end up with dense crust. After I cube my butter I pop the cubes into the freezer for 10 minutes so make sure they are nice and chilly.
  2. Dont play with the dough too much. Err on the side of light-handed. The more you play with the dough the higher the chance your butter gets too warm.
  3. Do not rush the dough chilling step. Allow the dough to sit in the fridge/freezer for the full time (or longer). This again makes sure the butter doesn’t warm up too much (are you sensing a pattern?)
  4. Par-bake and weight your dough. Par-baking basically means baking the dough on it’s lonesome before adding in the filing. Par-baking prevents soggy crusts and the weights keep it from puffing up with unwanted air pockets

(I have included photos of the steps I feel are more visual)

    Core steps

  1. Mix together butter salt and flour with a pastry blender food processor until it resembles a coarse meal (or pea sized butter bits all coated in flour).
  2. Whisk the egg and the cold water together then add to butter flour mix using a fork, the food processor, or your hand until everything is just combined.
  3. Gather the loose dough and squeeze into a patty.
  4. Pop patty into the fridge for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour is better. Or you can freeze it for like 20 minutes. The goal here is to get the butter back to “cold” again.
  5. Roll out dough patty till it fits your pan with at least 1-2 extra inches. If it starts to split or crack do not worry – just piece it back together as best as you can and move foward.
  6. Preheat oven to 350.
  7. Drop dough into pan and correct any tears or thin spots and put into freezer for 15 minutes.
  8. Line the pie shells with foil or parchment paper and drop in either fancy pie weights or go low brow and use raw rice or dried beans.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and take out liner and weights.
  11. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or so until pie crust is light golden brown.
  12. Let cool before adding filling.

And that’s it. Now you have a pie shell ready for your savory pie.

Hint the process is the exact same for a sweet pie shell except there is some sweetener in the dough!

In the next post I will fill you in on the fillings, eh eh?

I don’t like thinking of titles.

I have this fantasy that the cool girl I really am will one day emerge from the freaky provisional person that I am now. The new cool version of me wears black every day and is casually interested in the mystical. Hard drugs don’t scare her. She never spills lunch down her shirt. At the bookstore she glances at the self-help section with disdain as she makes her way to a shelf in the back to pick up a new book written by a South American refugee feminist poet.

But, until Cool Girl shows up and take her rightful place at the helm of my brain, drugs will continue to terrify me, my clothes will always get mysteriously stained, and I will fall prey to the allure of self-help books. I know most are trashy cash cows but who am I to deny the anti-intellectual optimist part of me its’ urges?  I want to believe the answers to my questions are out there just waiting for me to find them. I recognize that this is why religion is popular.

In the reading of one such book I was made to write a list of stuff I like and stuff I do not like. These lists are then reduced down and reduced down until you get to the stuff you really like and the stuff you really do not like. Simple. Unsurprising to anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes with me: I like to eat, I like to cook and I like to read. Thanks self-help book!

So that’s what I’m going to do here. I aim to toss my hat into the murky cesspool of mediocrity that is blogging (God, if only it were named something less gag inducing).

I am very tempted to self-deprecate here (this is probably going to be really shitty and passé and deserving of your pity) or to apologize (please forgive my ineptitude) or to be detached and aggressive (this is what it is you’re not forced to read it it’s a free country get the fuck out of here) or to be blasé and use humor so it seems as if the success or quality of what I do doesn’t matter to me (this is just for shits and giggles to kill time before I become an astronaut chef and all ya’ll are in my restaurant eating my moon steaks) mostly because starting anything new makes me feel immensely vulnerable and stupid.

But.

Here I want to choose bravery and honestly and authenticity because I need more of all of that in my life. Along with well stocked kitchens, awesome interesting food, and writing that makes me feel plugged into humanity.

OKAY ENOUGH TALK I WANNA EAT SOMETHING.