Terroir, or sense of place, helps to define character and flavor. It applies to food as well as wine. To be tempted by Argentina is to dream of steak on a grill, and it’s no accident that the meat echoes the density of the malbecs from Mendoza. Good beef delivers a tight package of sweetness, earthiness, and minerality, just like the wines. And what would beef in Argentina be without a slather of chimichurri, the iconic parsley-based green sauce? It is both sharply hot and herbaceously cool, especially with the addition of mint to intensify the whiff of eucalyptus in the wines. This chimichurri is not really a sauce because it is meant to play a more intimate role, seasoning the steak inside and out.
Time: 45 minutes, plus 3 hours marinating
1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
2 tablespoons minced mint leaves
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 hanger steak (about 2 pounds)
1. Mix the parsley, mint, jalapeño, garlic, oil, and vinegar in a bowl. Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste. The chimichurri should have a kick. The ingredients, except for the oil and vinegar, can be chopped in a food processor, with the liquids drizzled in through the feed tube. But if those results are not finely textured, spread the mixture on a cutting board and finish chopping by hand. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the mixture and add the panko to the rest.
2. Butterfly the steak with a sharp knife, slicing it not quite through to open it like a book. Lightly pound any thicker areas to make the meat more uniform. Spread the chimichurri with panko on one side of the cut surfaces, fold the other side over, and use metal or wooden skewers to enclose the filling. Coat the outside of the steak with the reserved chimichurri (no panko). Set aside for 3 hours at room temperature if the kitchen is not warm, or in the refrigerator. Allow the steak to come to room temperature before cooking.
3. Heat a grill or the broiler. Grill or broil the steak for 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium-rare (depending on the heat). Allow to rest for 10 minutes, remove the skewers, cut the steak into thick slices, and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Cook’s Notes : Hanger steak, which often delivers an appealing funkiness, is the best choice for this recipe, though flank steak is a good substitute. The recipe can even be accomplished with more luxury using a whole tenderloin, especially if you have eight or so guests. But regardless of the cut of beef, try to use grass-fed beef as they do in Argentina.
© Wine With Food by Eric Asimov and Florence Fabricant, Rizzoli New York, 2014.