Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nicaraguan-Style Churrasco

I was searching for a good beef recipe and I came across one recipe for Nicaraguan-style Churrasco.  For most people, the word "Churrasco" conjures images of Brazilian or Argentinian barbecue, with "gauchos" walking around with endless skewers of meat.  That, of course, is sort of an Americanized version of Churrasco brought to life as "Brazilian barbecue."  More to the point, however, the cuisine of many Latin American countries include Churrasco, usually with their own twists.  There are versions of Churrasco in Ecuador, Paraguay, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Generally, Churrasco is grilled meat and, in Latin America, the meat is beef.  (Interestingly, there is a version in Portugal -- Frango de Churrasco --  that involves chicken.)  In Nicaragua, Churrasco is typically cuts from a beef tenderloin, topped with a chimichurri sauce.  The recipe I found calls for a five pound tenderloin.  While I love meat and can eat a lot of it, five pounds is a little to much for me.  I was planning for a steak night, not Man v. Food.  So, as I was standing at the meat counter at my local grocery store, I decided to go with a grass-fed, bone-in ribeye.  People who follow this blog know my love for grass-fed beef.  In the end, while the Churrasco may be Nicaraguan in style, the cut of beef is all Chef Bolek. 

I made a couple of revisions based on the comments left by people about the recipe.  The original recipe calls for the use of jalapeno peppers and oregano in making the chimichurri sauce, but a comment left from someone from Managua said that, in Nicaragua, they do not use those ingredients.  Instead, he said that Nicaraguans just use olive oil, salt, garlic, vinegar and parsley.  So, I followed the comment when making the chimichurri.  In the end, the chimichurri has a nice garlic flavor to it (which you could reduce by leaving out one or two cloves) and is a perfect complement to the grilled meat.

Adapted from Food Network
Serves 2

Ingredients (for the Beef):
1 1.5 to 2 pound bone in ribeye steak
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Ingredients (for the Chimichurri):
6 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup of curly parsley
1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Ground pepper to taste.

1.  Preheat the grill.  Preheat the grill on medium-high heat.

2.  Make the chimichurri sauce.  Combine the garlic, flat leaf parsley, curly leaf parsley, salt and some black pepper in a food processor.  Process the garlic and parsley, adding first the vinegar and then the oil.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings (salt and/or pepper) as desired.

3.  Grill the ribeye.  Lightly oil the grill grates and add the ribeye.  Cook for about four to five minutes and turn ninety degrees.  Cook for another four to five minutes.  Flip the steak.  Cook for an additional five minutes and turn ninety degrees.  Continue to cook for a few more minutes.

4.  Plate the ribeye.  Cut the meat into strips.  Plate with the bone and spoon the chimichurri sauce over the meat.  Pour the remaining sauce into ramekins for guests.

The cooking times are for one steak and should produce an end result between medium rare and medium. If you use two three-quarter to one-pound steaks, simply cut the cooking times in half (about two to two and a half minutes for each step).

Overall, this is a great dish and I particularly like the simplified version of the chimichurri sauce.  I need to work on the sauce a little, which is okay for me because that means I'll be having steak again.  I may use that five pound tenderloin and invite a bunch of people over as guests to share in the experience.


For more about Churrasco, check out Wikipedia.

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