Red Chimichurri Sauce is a zesty variation of Argentina’s famous green chimichurri. This fresh, spicy sauce makes a grilled steak sing! Try it on chicken or fish, too. It’s quick to whip up in a food processor and turns any meal into something special and wow-worthy! (Skip to recipe.)
Welcome to our gastronomic tour of the world. Come join us this month for our Eat the World Recipe Challenge as we visit the second largest country in South America: Argentina. Let’s start in Buenos Aries, the bustling, cosmopolitan Spanish-speaking city often called the Paris or Rome of this southern continent. We’ll watch impossibly beautiful people dance a fiery tango against the kaleidoscope of grand classical archictecture and colourful local housing. We’ll feel the throbbing heartbeat of its masses as we navigate the crackling nightlife that comes alive in the late hours of every day. We’ll gorge ourselves on aromatic grilled street food, fresh seafood, and sweet fruits. Maybe we’ll join the throngs in a stadium to cheer on the local team in a rousing game of soccer, the nation’s favourite pastime. Then we’ll head out away from the crowds.
Saddle up your horse and let’s join a group of handsome gauchos as they take a canter across the Pampas; the wide, wild, and wonderful grasslands which stretch from Buenos Aries down the length of this vast country to Patagonia at its southern tip. After a day of riding, we’ll rest our weary bones as we squat around a campfire crackling in the darkening sky. Our nostrils will quiver to the smoky aroma as thick slabs of beef sizzle on the grill over the flames, juices hissing as they hit the searing heat and vaporize into the night air. We can hardly wait for the juicy steak to be cooked to tender perfection. Pedro spears a massive slab of char-grilled meat with his fork, then plops it onto our waiting tin plate. He adds a big spoonful of a mysterious and aromatic red-speckled sauce. The heady aromas of garlic and herbs and smoky meat weave a spell on our senses. The night-sky swirls around as we experience the encompassing magic of this unforgettable land.
Argentinians are the second largest consumers of beef in the world (next to Uruguay), eating 120 pounds of beef per capita per year (in Canada, we eat 58 pounds). That’s a lot of beef! Vast herds of cattle roam the Pampas and are an important part of Argentina’s economy. And the Argentinians know how to cook and serve that delicious beef. Zesty chimichurri sauce is the favourite accompaniment. Try my recipe for their traditional Green Chimichurri or make this smoky, spicy red version. Sweet red bell pepper and fresh parsley are the base, rounded out with the perfect balance of smoked paprika, tangy vinegar, and creamy olive oil. Grilled steak is taken to a whole new level with this simply spectacular sauce.
I love to use a dry rub on our steaks, with a thin drizzle of olive oil rubbed on before grilling. I’ve included the recipe for my rub below.
To Make Argentinian Red Chimichurri Sauce
Nothing to it!
Jut plop all the ingredients into a food processor.
And if you don’t have a food processor, you could employ several elves to spend an afternoon chopping up all the ingredients with their tiny knives until they are very finely cut and look something like this:
Then slather it onto a handsome grilled steak or a char-marked piece of chicken: even a pan-fried filet of white fish or a slab of tofu would welcome the flavour blast of this robust, zesty food bling.
Use Red Chimichurri Sauce a Hundred Different Ways
(Well, maybe 99.) You’ll find all kinds of uses for your chimichurri sauce. Not only is it a great marinade for meats; you can tuck a bit into a sandwich or wrap. Dollop some into fajitas or on top of grilled burgers, or mix a bit into mayonnaise to make a fantastic burger sauce or sandwich spread. Use it as a topping for baked potatoes, along with sour cream. Swirl a spoonful into a bowl of tomato soup, or into a bowl of cream soup, or top a plate of scrambled eggs with it. Mix a few spoonfuls of it up with mayonnaise and sour cream to make a crackerjack dip, or stir a dollop into a pasta salad or potato salad. You can make a great spicy bean salad by using Red Chimichurri Sauce as the dressing. Or stir a bit of it into a regular vinaigrette to add some zip to your salads. With a jar of this fantastic sauce in your fridge, your meals will definitely become ‘WOW‘!
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: Red Chimichurri Sauce can be served immediately, or made a day or more ahead. If made ahead, the spice level will be higher as the chili flakes soften and release their heat.
- 1 red bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- 1 cup packed flat-leaved parsley leaves (about 1 bunch)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1½ teaspoons smoked mild paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper and cut it into large chunks. To measure the parsley, tear the leaves off the stems and pack them semi-firmly into a measuring cup. Add the pepper chunks, chopped onion, parsley leaves, garlic, paprika, salt, oregano, and chili flakes to the bowl of a food processor and whiz until everything is chopped finely, but don’t process too much, that it turns to mush.
Add the red wine vinegar and the olive oil. Process just until coarsely ground – you don’t want a smooth puree – you still want texture in the sauce. Scrape it into a serving bowl or storage container. The red chimichurri sauce keeps refrigerated for up to two weeks (if it lasts that long).
It is best left to sit for a half hour before serving so the onion, garlic, and pepper flakes have a chance to release their flavours and mellow out.
Serve Red Chimichurri Sauce over grilled, roasted, or pan-fried meat, poultry, or fish, or serve over steamed or baked potatoes. Or use it as a marinade for any type of meat. Mix a few spoonfuls into a mixture of mayonnaise and sour cream for a delicious dip, or just into mayonnaise for a tasty sandwich spread, too. (See above for more ideas on how to use it.)
Makes about 2 cups (500ml).
Kitchen Frau’s Simple Steak Rub
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
Stir all ingredients together. Keep the prepared rub in a small airtight container at room temperature. Will keep for up to 6 months.
To use, sprinkle each side of the meat (steaks, pork, chicken, fish, even tofu) liberally with the rub. Leave dry, or drizzle on a small amount of olive oil and rub all over the meat with your fingers to moisten the rub. Allow to marinate for ½ to 1 hour at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator, loosely covered.
Grill, roast, or pan-fry as usual. We like to grill our steak on medium heat, in a covered barbecue, about 5 to 6 minutes on the first side, then 3 to 4 minutes on the second side, then remove them and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving with a dollop of green or red chimichurri sauce.
Makes ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) of dry rub.
Check out all the wonderful Argentinian dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Margaret: Red Chimichurri Sauce
Tara: Milanesa a Caballo (Argentinian Milanesa on Horseback)
Amy: Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce
Juli: Revuelto Gramajo
Camilla: Matambre with Chimichurri
Claudia: Argentinean Tamales
Loreto and Nicoletta: Carbonada Criolla, Argentinian Beef Stew
Evelyne: Alfajores, Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies
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