Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
We tend to think of sauces as supplementary, but oftentimes a sauce is what transforms a simple protein into a satisfying dish. Chimichurri is an ideal choice for summer: It’s herby, mouthwateringly bright and raw, so there’s no need to turn on your oven.
Though some recipes call for blending, chopping by hand is the traditional Argentinian method, and I find it helps preserve the integrity of each ingredient and prevents the flavors from becoming muted. Plus, you wind up with a colorful, mosaiclike sauce instead of a homogeneous green mixture. Because of that, though, you’ll only want to use the leaves of the herbs. I’m usually a fan of using as much as you can—stems and all—but here you’ll want each piece to be consistent, as you’re not pureeing the mixture.
Something not traditional in this recipe is the addition of a small amount of lime juice. It’s inauthentic, for sure, but when I tasted my first sauce trial, it made me crave a squeeze of citrus, so I couldn’t resist.
Skirt steak—a thin, lean cut—keeps this recipe quick and provides a nice foil to the oil-based sauce. It’s easy to tell when it’s done (once the outside develops a browned crust, the inside is cooked to medium rare), which takes just a few minutes. Seasoning with just salt and pepper lets the chimichurri shine, and applying olive oil to the steak rather than the pan will help minimize smoking as your vessel heats up.
When plating, spoon on as much or as little sauce as you’d like. Any leftover chimichurri can be served with other proteins (think chicken and white fish), and it also makes a great marinade or salad dressing. Just store it in an airtight container in your fridge, and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before use.
For the wine pairing, I knew I wanted something with Cabernet Sauvignon, a natural choice for steak. A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Southern Rhône, Domaine de Triennes Méditerranée St.-Auguste 2015, made a good fit. The wine had a pleasing combination of savory and fruity flavors, and it matched well with the charred, smoky notes of the beef, bringing a backyard-grilling vibe to this already summery dish.
Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Pair with a ripe red blend like the Syrah- and Cabernet-based Domaine de Triennes Méditerranée St.-Auguste 2015 (89 points, $20) from France.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Approximate food costs: $30
- 4 skirt steaks, 1/3 to 1/2 pound each
- 1/2 cup olive oil (plus more for coating steaks)
- 1/4 cup oregano, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Lime wedges for serving (optional)
1. Pat steaks dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper, brush with olive oil, and let sit at room temperature while you assemble the sauce.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oregano, parsley, garlic and red pepper flakes. Whisk in olive oil, red wine vinegar and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and set aside.
3. Preheat a cast-iron skillet just below the highest setting on your stove (more than medium-high, but not all the way up) for 5 minutes. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, sear steaks for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until a brown crust begins to form. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Slice steaks diagonally to cut against the grain, transfer to a serving platter and spoon the chimichurri over the top. Serve with extra sauce and a lime wedge, if desired. Serves 4.