Thursday, July 30, 2009

Argentinean inspired spicy Sunday dinner

Ok so Kyle wanted Mexican, but then he said he wanted Chimichurri sauce, which I tried to explain to him was from Argentina. (I then came to learn that it is a regionalization of the name Jimmy McCurry, an Irishman who invented the sauce in Argentina).
Anyways, due to the aging spears in our fridge, I tried to look up a traditional asparagus recipe from Argentina, but even though they grow the stuff there, it’s difficult to find a recipe not written in Spanish. I found one that called for Leche de Tigre. Anyone know any lactating tigers? A little more internet research and I discovered that Leche de Tigre is essentially the juice from a ceviche. Deciding that it was too involved to make a ceviche simply to use the juice and discard the lovely fish, I swapped Leche de Tigre for lime juice. It also called for quenelles of sweet potato. I’m not sure how quenelles of sweet potato would hold their shape in a salad…. And Rocoto which is a pepper that I don’t think exists in this country. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, I say that a recipe filled with imaginary ingredients is the mother of invention.
So the menu came down to:
Citrus Marinated Steak with Chimichurri sauce,
Spicy roasted corn, asparagus and sweet potato salad
And ‘green’ potatoes with zucchini
We also had cornmeal and sausage stuffed jalepeno boats, but I’m not sure there’s room here for that recipe. Maybe some other time; if I ever make it using chickpea flour (which I have been searching for)
In the past, I haven’t been too effective at writing down recipes and quantities, but will try to be better, I just don’t really use exact quantities in real life….
For the chimichurri sauce, Kyle followed the recipe to the letter, so instead of writing it all out here, I will simply link to it. Chimichurri is a herb sauce of parsley, cilantro, vinegar, and more that is often served over grilled meat.

We started out with a very large cheap steak and marinated it for about 5 -7 hours in orange juice, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. I’m not sure of the exact ratio of ingredients, the marinade was Kyle’s creation.

So while that was brewing in the frigo, I chopped 1 small / medium sweet potato into half inch cubes and about 13 healthy size (not spindly, not fat) asparagus into 1.5 inch lengths. (This was after snapping off their woody ends of course).

The sweet potatoes were boiled for about 8 minutes until completely cooked, but not mushy. Then drained and immediately transferred to a bowl where they took up residence with the juice of one lime. While the potatoes are still hot and damp like that, they really suck up the lime flavour. Ultimately, 2 ½ limes will go into the mixture, but added each time a new cooked vegetable goes in.

I spread out an even coating of frozen corn onto disposable baking sheet. The quantity is up to you, depending on how much you like corn. It was left out on the counter to thaw, and then to dry a little bit. It then went into the oven under the broiler for about 20 minutes. But it is definitely something that you need to watch. Once it starts to brown on the top it should be turned in the oven. And then when some of the kernels get black and charred, the really dead ones should be removed and the whole thing stirred a little bit to get the ones hiding underneath to the top and put back in for another 5 minutes or so. But really, watch it because it can be blackened beyond repair faster than you think!

That too is added to the bowl with the juice of another lime. Also in the mix is half a clove of garlic, minced and a scotch bonnet pepper, minced.

This here be Scotch Bonnet. Fear ye the scotch bonnet! My fingernails have been hurting for 2 days from cutting the scotch bonnet. So if you have sensitive hands, wear gloves when cutting. If you have sensitive palates and bellies, opt for a milder chilli.

Finally the asparagus was boiled for about 4 minutes; to the point where it is still nice and green (not flaccid and olive drab) but tender. Drained, and shocked in cold water, either an ice bath or under cold running water. It was added to the mix along with some (about ½ a teaspoon) chopped lime zest, the juice of ½ a lime, and salt to taste. Mix it up and put it in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.

While Olive slumbers

And Sidney stares

For the potatoes, I chopped about 2 lbs of potatoes into large chunks and cooked them in boiling water for about 10 minutes until tender but not mushy.

Then, in a dry non-stick pan char an onion (halved), 8 garlic cloves with the skins still on, and 8 tomatillos. I used canned tomatillos, the ones in the back yard are pea sized – not full grown yet. The canned ones will char, but they also have the tendency to pop and sizzle in a sickly foam. If you have access to fresh tomatillos, use them, but the canned will work just fine. You can also use tart tomatoes if you can’t find tomatillos at all.

Skin and stem the charred garlic, as well as the onion and chop them roughly. Puree in a food processor with the tomatillos. Then cut up a small jalepeno and whizz it into the tomatillo mixture.

In a pan, add ½ a cup of chicken or vegetable stock and the tomatillo mixture over med. / high heat. Reduce the mixture for about 5 – 10 minutes, to concentrate the flavour.

Then add ½ a bunch of cilantro and a zucchini cut into large chunks, plus a little more stock, maybe a ¼ cup. I’m really not happy with how the zucchini turned out. It was pale and not cooked very soft. The next time I make this, I will add the zucchini to the dry pan with the onions and garlic to brown them and then add the pureed tomatillos/onion/garlic back into the pan with the zukes to cook some more. I’m convinced that will yield a better result.
Once the zucchinis are soft and cooked to your liking, add a ¼ tsp of cumin, salt to taste, and the other ½ bunch of cilantro chopped finely. Mix thoroughly and combine the zucchini / tomatillo / cilantro mixture with the potatoes in a bowl and stir. It was served somewhere between warm and room temperature.
Let’s check in on Olive.I don’t know what happened to her. Clearly she’s having a seizure.
Remember the steak? After collecting it from its orangey lagoon, we grilled it to medium, salted it and then let it rest for about 5 minutes. (Sorry for the blurry picture, I was frantically wiping away saliva)
DA DADA DAAAAAAAA! We sliced the steak thinly and topped with Chimichurri.
Here is our vaguely Argentinian meal… or whatever, it was good.
Thanks for taking the time to read. If any one has any meal suggestions that they would like to see done, feel free to request. We’ve already had one for Tuna steaks and that’s definitely in the works, I just need to find a source that I don’t have to take out a loan for!
Thanks everyone!


  1. I have no meal suggestions... but might I suggest having a bite??

    Looks awesome.

  2. For those who were wondering about the steak marinade that I made up...I didn't really use any quantities. I just free pour until it looks like it makes sense. If that makes any sense? In the end, I made enough to just cover the steak.

    What's cool is that the acidity of the orange juice and the vinegar really beats the hell out of the meat (not to mention the flavour it adds), so you can buy a relatively cheap steak (as you can see, ours was almost the size of a full size dinner plate) and still have it taste good.

    The second key if you're going to use a cheap cut of meat is the thin slices.

    This meal kicked all kinds of ass. I'm happy that the steak turned out, and that chimichurri has possibly the best "taste-to-preptime & difficulty" ratio in the history of mankind. It literally took 5 minutes to make and we still have plenty!