Recipe and photos contributed to Hispanic Kitchen by Carolyn Swaney
You say churrasco and the ears of Latin food lovers perk up. Charred steak, tender enough to cut through with a fork, but more packed with flavor than you can imagine…mmmm, mouth watering yet?
Just about every South American, Latin American or Caribbean country has their version of churrasco. Sometimes it’s paired with other grilled meats, like in Brazil, and always paired with chimichurri. In Nicaragua, a churrasco is a skirt steak, pounded thin and tender, and served with grilled vegetables. Here in Southern California, skirt steak is pretty tough to come by. When it’s available, it’s usually already sliced for fajitas and stir fry, so we don’t get the benefit of tenderizing it with vinegar or sizzling it over a really hot grill. A filet, butterflied and pounded takes the place of the skirt, providing just as beefy a flavor, and often times, a more economical price.
A churrasco in Nicaragua, which I savored at a soda (a small, in-home restaurant) in Costa Rica, is always served with a variety of sauces. Chimichurri, the classic Argentinian herb-based paste is typical for churrasco, but the others – a tomato-y marinara style sauce and cebollita are the other delicious condiments that go with it. Here, a tasty tomato and onion salad and grilled peppers and onions create an easier blend of those delicious flavors. a few tortillas on the side and you’ve got a quick and delicious meal for any night of the week.
Yields 4 servings
1½ lbs filet mignon in two steaks
Chimichurri sauce: (amounts can be adjusted to taste)
1 bunch Italian parsley
½ bunch cilantro
6 cloves garlic
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1. Prepare the chimichurri: Place all ingredients, except filet, in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
2. With a very sharp knife, slice length wise through the filet at 1/3 of the thickness of the steak. Flip the steak over, and beginning at the seam end, slice through the steak the opposite way. Cover the steak with plastic wrap, and pound steak with a meat mallet.
3. Cut each butterflied filet in half across the width. Place in a glass dish. Season with salt and pepper. Rub half of the chimichurri on the steaks, and let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Grill the steaks over high heat for 5 minutes, then flip and grill for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the grill and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving alongside grilled onions and peppers, tomato and onion salad, and the leftover chimichurri.