[Originally published on Jan 31, 2013 – Updated with a new technique and recipe]
When it comes to steak, I’m a purist and like to go solo. Hold the sauces, the grilled onions and the crumbled cheese, please. Just the big beefy flavor of a properly seared & grilled steak.
Though there are two exceptions to that rule. One is if we’re talking about a complex red wine reduction. And the other is when we’re talking about the great Argentine gift to meat…la salsa chimichurri. Here we will take it to the next level by making chimichurri into a delicious chimichurri butter for topping steaks.
Think of it as one amazing steak butter.
At it’s core, chimichurri is really quite simple. Parsley, olive oil and garlic. It’s something you can pull together in under 5 minutes in a food processor. Rinse off some parsley, peel a few cloves of garlic and pulse it together with the oil. Done.
You may notice that it’s very similar to an Italian gremolata (parsley, lemon juice and garlic). Though in this case, swapping out the lemon juice with the olive oil makes it much more meat friendly. Gremolata is great on grilled vegetables in the summer time or sautéing with some hearty greens.
Using Chimichurri for Steak Marinade
Here, I’ve done chimi two ways. One as a traditional sauce for dipping and the other in a compound butter. If you’ve checked out my Smoked Salmon Rolls, you’ll know there are times when you can’t go wrong with a tasty compound butter. I’ve also taken the chimichurri sauce one step further here and used it to marinate the steaks. A few hours before cooking I rubbed some on the steaks, covered them in plastic wrap and put them back in the refrigerator to marinade.
Be sure to use 2 full cups of parsley, tightly packed into the measuring cup. If you don’t have enough, go easy on the liquids or it’ll be really soupy. It all depends on your style, so adapt and adjust the oil, vinegar and water as necessary.
I’d also suggest using a food processor over a blender. If you do use a blender, don’t use the higher settings labeled pulverize or liquify – or the parsley will be completely dissolved.
Like any sauce, if you make this a day or two ahead of time you’ll be rewarded by an even more flavorful end product.
Making steak kabobs? Check out my recipe for using chimichurri for making grilled steak skewers.
Chimichurri Butter Recipe
Making chimichurri butter is super straightforward. You’ll want some softened butter to start. I left a stick of butter sitting out on the counter in a bowl for a few hours until I could easily mash it with a fork.
For topping four steaks, I added 4 tablespoons of chimichurri to 6 tablespoons of butter. This will leave a little extra for the next day and give you a little extra to work with. Use a fork, or a small whisk, and whip the chimichurri into the butter really well.
To make the chimichurri butter into discs that you can put on top of the steaks, place a piece of parchment paper on your counter and scoop out the chimichurri butter. Instead of placing it in the middle, put it closer to an edge so that you can roll it up.
Next, you’ll roll it up like a big piece of candy. Roll the chimichurri butter up in the parchment paper and then twist the ends. You’ll want to keep twisting it tightly until it is all compressed into the middle. Gently roll this on the counter to give it a uniform round shape.
Now it will need to be frozen for about 2 hours to firm up. If you’ll be freezing it longer, it may be difficult to slice. One thing you can do is slice it after the first 2 hours or so and then put the discs back in the freezer. Bring it out of the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving so that it softens and melts slightly when topping a hot steak.
What makes a simple chimichurri recipe different from an Argentenian chimichurri? There are a few extra ingredients.
Here, I’ve adapted a recipe from Francis Mallmann in his Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way cookbook (which is a prominent member of my Essential Kitchen Bookshelf list). While a traditional chimichurri recipe is simply parsley, garlic and olive oil, an Argentine Chimichurri also adds in oregano, crushed red pepper and red wine vinegar. The red wine vinegar not only gives it extra complexity, it also makes it great for marinating.
One other difference in the Francis Mallman Chimichurri recipe is the usage of a Salumera – or salt water – to season the chimichurri and also thin it out. This leaves it more like a sauce, whereas a lot of traditional chimichurri is more like a chunky herbed oil.
Oh, and don’t forget to pop open a bottle of Malbec to enjoy with this great meal. ¡Buen Provecho!
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano
- 2 cups Fresh Parsley packed
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Pinch Crushed Red Pepper
- 1/2 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 Tablespoons Softened Butter
Bring the water to a boil and mix in the salt. This is what is known as a salumera.
In a food processor, add the garlic cloves and run 5 - 10 seconds until they are fully chopped
Add in the parsley and oregano and pulse several times. You'll probably need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times and pulse again to get all of the leaves fully chopped
Add the pinch of red pepper, red wine vinegar and olive oil and start running the processor. You can pour small amounts of the salumera until you reach a consistency that you like.
Add 4 Tablespoons of the Chimichurri to 6 Tablespoons of room temperature softened butter and mix very well
Place the chimichurri butter onto a piece of parchment paper and roll it into a log. Twist the ends tightly to compress the chimichurri butter in the middle
Freeze the chimichurri butter for around 2 hours and then slice into discs