Chimichurri: It’s What’s for Dinner

I thought I’d share a few recipes with you today to maybe get us talking about food and cooking again?  I love those boxes from Hello, Fresh, but dang if our schedules can get synced!  Every week that I have time to cook and want a box, they have recipes that feature things I don’t eat, like broccoli and salmon.  Yuuuuuuuuuuuck.   When they have cool looking recipes, I am traveling or busy and can’t order the box.

I do, however, keep an eye on their recipes.  It’s always an option to print them out and make them at home, which is what I’m going to do with my latest craving, and that’s for something with chimichurri sauce.

If you have never eaten chimichurri sauce, you don’t know what you are missing!  It is so flavorful, and super easy to make.  It’s a South American condiment with a parsley or cilantro base.  Some recipes call for both parsley and cilantro.  From there, recipes vary regarding ingredients.  I’ve seen recipes that include garlic, chili peppers, cumin and shallots.  Then you need a liquid (usually vinegar) and an oil to make it all blend together.  You just put the ingredients in a food processor and whirl them into this amazing sauce that is bursting with a fresh taste and vibrancy you just don’t get anywhere else.

For a great chimichurri sauce recipe, look to Bon Apetit Magazine by clicking here.

You can use chimichurri on steak, chicken, and even on vegetarian dishes if you’re not a meat fan.   Here are two recipes from Hello, Fresh that are particularly appealing and that I’ll be making in the next few days.

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The Perfect Filet

omaha-filet-mignonFew things are better than a delicious filet mignon.  If you buy a good cut of meat and cook it properly, you can almost cut it with a fork.  Sometimes you can cut it with a fork.  But, how do you get it cooked to perfection?

I have studied this subject and done a lot of trial and error, and what I’ve concluded is that Gordon Ramsay does it better than anyone.  You may or may not enjoy watching him cook, but the man knows how to make a steak.  So, I follow his general approach to cooking steaks and I have reasonable success.   I’ve added a couple of my own twists to his method, and  I find that this method yields the most rave reviews from my dinner guests.

First, assemble all the tools and ingredients you need:

  1. A thick filet mignon.  I prefer them about 1” thick to 1.25” thick, but sometimes they come much thicker.
  2. A heavy frying pan, preferably a cast iron skillet.
  3. A set of good tongs with a good grip on them.
  4. Good quality olive oil.
  5. Irish butter (you can use regular butter if you don’t have Irish butter, but I think Irish tastes far superior and I recommend keeping some in your kitchen.)
  6. A spoon
  7. A spring of fresh thyme, rosemary or both.
  8. Seat salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  9. Instant-read meat thermometer
  10. Oven broiler

Steps:

  1. Remove steak from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for an hour. This will ensure that the interior of the steak cooks properly.
  2. Heat the oven broiler to 550 degrees.
  3. Generously salt and pepper the steak on both sides, pressing the salt and pepper grains into the meat.
  4. Heat frying pan to medium-high heat on the stove top.
  5. Put at least a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and swirl it around, coating the pan thoroughly.
  6. Here’s where the science of cooking turns into an art form that takes practice.
    1. Put the steak in the pan and hear that SSSSSSSSSSSSIZZZZZLE.
    2. Let it brown on that side without disturbing it for at least two minutes, preferably three.
    3. Turn the steak to the other side.
    4. Apply a tablespoon of butter to the steak and let it melt. Put the fresh herb sprigs in the butter and leave them there.
    5. Let that side brown for two or three minutes. Meanwhile, use the spoon to baste the steak with the butter and juices from the pan.
    6. Using your tongs, pick up the steak and rest the steak on its edge in the pan and render (cook away) any fat along the edge. Rotate the steak as needed to render all the fat.
  7. Check the internal temperature of the steak. You want it …
    1. At 120-125 degrees for rare (bright red in the middle, slightly warm center)
    2. At 130-135 degrees for medium rare (brown at the edges, but still bright pink in the middle and warm throughout)
  8. If the steak isn’t as done as you’d like it, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes then check it again, but be careful. It will go from medium rare to medium well before you can blink an eye.
  9. Baste the steak one last time then let it rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before serving. This ten minute rest period allows the meat to reabsorb juices (if you cut it immediately a lot of the juice will run out, leaving the steak drier than it should be).
  10. If you want a sauce to serve with this, I have several recommendations that I’ll share in another post. One option—the simplest solution–is to just spoon the buttery goodness from the cooking pan and drizzle it over the steak.

Now, notice that I did not

  1. Marinate the steak. Nor did I mention seasonings like “Montreal Steak Seasoning” or some fancy concoction of herbs and spices.  Marinades and complicated seasonings are what you use to disguise the flavor of bad meat.  The filet is and should be the star of the show.  Salt, pepper, butter and a sprig of fresh herbs is really all you need to prepare this wonderful cut of beef.
  2. Give you instructions for cooking the steak past medium rare. The filet is the leanest cut of beef, with very little fat in it.  This steak does not lend itself to being cooked to medium or beyond because it becomes tough, dry and tasteless.
  3. Discuss a charcoal or gas grill here. It’s very hard to maintain the moisture in the steak cooking on the grill.  When I’m doing a filet I almost always choose the frying pan over the grill.

The only problem with filet is it’s super expensive, sometimes $25 a pound or more.  My advice is to watch for sales on whole tenderloins and then have your butcher cut it into individual steaks.  I buy mine at the local warehouse club where they are $14.98 a pound in packages of four steaks.  Good luck and watch for a future post on steak sauces!