Thursday, June 17, 2010

Argentinian churrasco

After my raiding of the meat counter at Edwards on Saturday morning... I wanted to try out a recipe in the new Cooks Illustrated, which demonstrates how to produce your own brand of smoky charred churrasco—even without the aid of a wood-burning Argentine grill...using just charcoal, wood bits and a Weber.  Oh... I am in!   (Yes Sara, your Weber and I are still in love)

So Sunday afternoon, Mac and I lovingly rubbed cornstarch into our strip steaks and hesitantly stuck them in the freezer (yes the freezer).   I then passed off the cooking duties to Mac, we then followed it up with an argument because I don't think that he monitors cooking times and temperatures accurately enough... all he heard was:  Everything he grills tastes like shoe leather.     I am fully convinced that all couples fight over how long the meat is on the grill.   Some summers ago, while single and hanging out with my favorite married couple: Jon and Randie, I used to wonder why they always had spats over the grilling... well Mac and I now do it too.

What followed is a delicious steak with a fantastic smoky flavor, don't forget to use a thermometer... because after a rest 120 degrees is actually medium rare.   Oh yes chimichurri was good too!!

Charcoal-Grilled Argentine Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated.  

Chimichurri Sauce
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon of fresh oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt 
1 and 1/3 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
6 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil 
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 boneless strip steaks , 1 1/2 inches thick (about 1 pound each) (see note)
4 (2-inch) unsoaked wood chunks (I used oak)

Ground black pepper


  1.  FOR THE SAUCE: Combine hot water, oregano, and salt in small bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften oregano. Pulse parsley, cilantro, garlic, and red pepper flakes in food processor until coarsely chopped, about ten 1-second pulses. Add water mixture and vinegar and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and slowly whisk in oil until incorporated and mixture is emulsified. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour (if preparing sauce in advance, refrigerate and bring to room temperature before using).
  2. FOR THE STEAK: Combine cornstarch and salt in small bowl. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Rub entire surface of steaks with cornstarch mixture and place steaks, uncovered, in freezer until very firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Arrange coals in single layer over entire surface of grill and, using tongs, place wood chunks directly on top of coals, spacing them evenly around perimeter of grill. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes. Scrape cooking grate clean with grill brush. Grill is ready when coals are hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above grate for 2 seconds).
  4. Season steaks with pepper. Place steaks on grill, cover, and cook until steaks begin to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover grill, flip steaks, and cook on second side until beginning to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip again and cook first side until well charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip 1 last time and continue to cook until second side is well charred and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of steak registers 115 degrees for rare, about 2 minutes, or 120 degrees for medium-rare, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large plate and let rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes. Slice and serve, passing chimichurri sauce separately.


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