May 19, 2009

Short Ribs with Chimichurri Sauce–Costillas con Chimichurri

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The beauty of traditional Argentinean cuisine is that it's mostly unfettered by complicated sauces and preparation techniques.  This is especially true in the realm of asado, or barbecue.  Think of gauchos on horseback, riding over the vast landscape; Andes rising in the distance, cooking over a wood fire with little more than salt and a few herbs to season the meat.  This is more or less what remains today.

Unlike its American counterpart (which, by the way, I find equally delicious, but for different reasons),  Argentinean barbecue is not slathered in sweet, smoky barbecue sauce.  It's simply salted with coarse salt made for barbecuing, and placed on the grill.  Getting fancy would be painting the meat with a liquidy Chimichurri sauce, or maybe sprinkling on some crushed black or red pepper.

What makes Argentinean cookery so tantalizing is its simplicity–flavors that show their true colors, and are enhanced by melding together, yet remain distinct.  And simplicity in flavor also translates to simplicity for the cook.  After all, wouldn't you rather be sitting in the shade enjoying an icy beer or a cool glass of Torrontes instead of stoking hot coals and painting your meat with sauce?

We finally got the weather we were waiting for to fire up our grill this weekend.  That weather that says "Grill short ribs and drink a beer while lounging in the sun."  Not exactly riding off into the Andean sunset, but at least we have the Rockies and some flame…

This Short Ribs recipe couldn't be simpler–salt the meat, place it on the grill, turn once.  To make the Chimichurri, simply combine all the ingredients and let steep.  And sit back, relax and enjoy a cold one.

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Costillas Con Chimichurri

Short Ribs With Chimichurri Sauce

A good amount of meat for Short Ribs is an estimate of about 1 lb per person.

2 lbs. Flanken-Cut Short Ribs

Asado salt (Dos Anclas is a good brand) or coarse Kosher salt, to taste

Chimmichurri sauce, to taste (recipe follows)

Prepare grill using either wood or charcoal, heating until coals are white and hot.  Liberally salt both sides of the meat, massaging meat slightly to let salt absorb.  (Don't use fine salt–it only will be absorbed by the top layer of meat and will dehydrate it, leaving a salty, dry layer on top with a flavorless core.  This cut of meat is not a super-juicy, greasy cut, so coarse salt is the way to go.)

Place the meat (as seen in photos) marrow-side up on the grill.  Go drink a beer.  (What I'm really saying here is, after you put the meat on the grill, don't move it, check it, or fuss over it.  Just leave it.  Guillermo says this depends on the heat of the coals–if they are very hot, put the meat closer to the edges of the grill instead of directly over the flame.  He also says you can turn it and turn it once more if you feel it needs more time.)  After about 10-15 minutes, turn the meat over.  Let grill another 15 minutes or so, until the meat is brown, juicy, and until the edge with no meat has pulled tight over the bone. 

Remove from heat and serve with Chimichurri on the side.  The 'portion' is to cut between each rib bone, crosswise, so that each serving includes a bit of the rib.

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Chimichurri de Florencia

Florencia's Chimichurri

My mother-in-law,claims to hate to cook, but has the best recipes, for, like, everything.  This is her recipe for Chimichurri, an herb-and-vinegar based sauce.

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup red wine

2  cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, wine, garlic, salt, black pepper, oregano, parsley and red pepper flakes in a bowl, stirring until ingredients have combined.  Add the oil and mix well.  Store unused portion in a tupperware or a jar in the refrigerator.  Shake well before serving.

More photos on my flickr photostream, From Argentina With Love

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Relevant posts:  The South American Table, Asado Argentino

8 Responses to “Short Ribs with Chimichurri Sauce–Costillas con Chimichurri”

  1. Rebecca,
    the ribs look delicious.
    Also in Italy it’s rare to season the meat with anything else than olive oil and herbs.
    One of my favorite “chimichurri” contains crushed garlic (discarded before dressing the meat), pepper, rosemary, sage, crushed juniper berries, salt.
    When i am in the mood for a mexican barbecue, i season the meat with achiote paste, orange juice, lime juice and some oil.
    Thank you for sharing!

  2. I didn’t realize there is special salt for barbecue. I’m going to search for it. Do you know of any online sources?

  3. exelente! el chimichurri lo usamos para varios tipos de asados,!muy rico! todo muy bueno, Florencia,

  4. Lydia,
    there is a whole new world when it comes to salt!
    Until not much time ago i thought in the end it was much ado about NaCl, but that’s not fully true because salt comes from very different places and may contain traces of rare minerals giving an entirely different color and or flavor.
    Search on the web for “black lava salt”, “red hawaiian salt”, “persian blue salt”, “smoked viking salt”, “guerande salt”, “murray river salt”, “himalayan salt” just to name a few off the top of my mind.
    Enjoy!

  5. Hi Rebecca! So happy to come across your blog today. My boyfriend is from Argentina, and we have been living in Argentina for almost a year now. I have completely fallen in love with Buenos Aires and am always on the search for good recipes. I am looking to make medialunas as delicious as those in the corner bakery to be able to make for my family in the U.S.

  6. As one who actually partook of the fruits of this recipe, I can vouch for just how fantastic it is. Rebecca’s chimichurri is a bit tarter than the average—and that much more addictive.

  7. All I can say is wow.

  8. interesting to see red wine used in the sauce…..the picture seems to have a clear liquid oozing from the parsley. you don’t see too many with red wine in the recipe. is that common?

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