Friday, October 26, 2007

Jim McCurry

My mother-dear was out of town last weekend, so I decided to use the oppotunity to experiment with garlic. That's right, I made the famous salsa chimichurri of the Gauchos.

A bit of background: Argentina is famous for its beef and the cowboys are called gauchos. They eat their steak with a steak sauce made from, in its most basic form, garlic, parsley, and olive oil. Supposedly, it gets its name from the first person to serve it, an Irish chuckwagon cook named Jim McCurry, which became chimichurri in Spanish.

So, how did I make it?

A small bunch of Italian parsley, which I chopped whole (I chopped the stems finely and the leaves coarsely), to which I added one small tomato diced, two cloves garlic smashed into a puree, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, enough olive oil to bring it together into a sauce-like consistency, and quite a bit of salt (it's a sauce, right?).

I put it, covered, in the frigo overnight and then cooked my steaks. With a bit of this on top, they were like biting into the most delicious garlic-salad-covered pieces of undercooked meat I've ever had. I should work on my cooking times for steaks.

By the way, the way I cooked the steaks seemed to work really well. It produced an excellent char and, if I'd cooked them long enough, they'd have been done perfectly. Here's how I did it.

I put a cast iron skillet in the oven and then set it to 500 degrees (that's F). I waited until everything was good and hot, and then I put the skillet on a burner turned to high. While that was heating up some more, I covered the steaks with oil and then salted them (again, quite heavily). I then put a tablespoon or so of oil in the skillet, waited the half-second for it to heat up, and then laid the steaks in. I left them for maybe a minute and a half untouched, then I turned them over, left them for another ninety seconds, and then put the whole thing into the oven. Once there, I waited until they were cooked to medium-rare (except I didn't actually do that and so my second, thicker steak, was about a rare as a steak can be).

Perfect steaks with an amazing char, just like being in a steak house, only much more expensive (I bought some really good steak at a high-end grocery store without looking at the price first).

One note of importance: The cooking method for the steaks produces a TON of smoke. It was fairly billowing out of the oven vent. Make sure you have a well-ventilated kitchen with a fan on high.

I also found some Argentine-style chorizos, which are like a bratwurst flavored with garlic. I made choripánes, an Argentine sandwich consisting of split French bread with a sausage cut lengthwise in the middle and topped with chimichurri. That was a garlic-fest if I've ever had one. After eating it, I told Timth that I was seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling, and hearing garlic and only garlic. Then I went to see Joanna Townsend. Boy, was that a weird day!


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