“Chimichurri” is a spicy sauce usually containing parsley, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, onion, vinegar and olive oil. The Argentine sauce is supposedly named after an Englishman named “Jimmy Curry” or “Jimmy McCurry,” but this theory lacks evidence.
“Chimi trucks” in the Dominican areas of Washington Heights and Inwood in Manhattan sell Dominican chimichurri hamburgers. The Dallas-based restaurant chain T.G.I. Friday’s began offering “chimichurri sliders” in September 2007.
The Free Dictionary
A sauce made of chopped fresh parsley seasoned with garlic, pepper, and herbs and bound with oil and vinegar.
Chimichurri is a sauce and marinade for grilled meat originally from Argentina but used in countries as far north as Nicaragua.
Chimichurri originated in Argentina and is a popular sauce used with grilled meat in many Latin American countries. It is told that the unusual name comes from ‘Jimmy McCurry’, an Irishman who is said to have first prepared the sauce. He was marching with the troops of General Belgrano in the 19th Century, sympathetic to the cause of Argentine independence. The sauce was popular and the recipe was passed on. However, ‘Jimmy McCurry’ was difficult for the native people to say. Some sources claim Jimmy’s sauces’ name was corrupted to ‘chimichurri’, while others say it was changed in his honor.
Other similar stories involve Jimmy Curry, an English meat importer; a Scot, James C. Hurray, travelling with gauchos; and an English family in Patagonia overheard by the group of Argentinians that were with them while saying “give me the curry”. All the stories share an English speaking colonist and the corruption of names or words by the local population.
Chimichurri is made from chopped parsley, dried oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, onion, and paprika with olive oil. Lemon or vinegar can be added for more “bite” . It is usually the only seasoning for steak and chorizo sausages in Argentine asados. It can also be used as a marinade for grilled meat. Chimichurri is also available bottled or dehydrated for preparing with oil and water.
The preparation is likely a mixture of Spanish and Italian methods, a general reflection of Argentine society as a whole. The essential elements of chimichurri are common to both Spain and Italy. The overall compositions, taste and preparation are clearly derived from Genovese pesto.
In the Dominican Republic chimichurri has a different meaning. It is a twist on the hamburger recipe popular in the United States, substituting cabbage for lettuce and adding herbs, spices, and various condiments to flavor the meat. The bread used is called “pan de agua.” The name translates into water bread and it has a texture and flavor similar to French bread, but is sized for an individual. As with the hamburger, many twists are added to the basic recipe on a regional or sometimes individual basis. The chimichurri is most popularly sold out of panel trucks in the Dominican Republic and the Washington Heights district of Manhattan.
A Chimi truck at 204th in Washington Heights, NYC. (This place is Inwood, not Washington Heights—ed.)
What Is Chimichurri?
Chimichurri is an herb condiment sauce that is considered a culinary specialty of Argentina. Typically served with grilled or roasted beef, it is made from parsley, oregano, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper in a liquid base of olive oil and vinegar.
Reflecting the Italian influence that is evident in cuisine and culture to a greater or lesser degree depending on where you are in Argentina, chimichurri is somewhat analogous to the green pesto sauce of northern Italy. Chopped fresh herbs — parsley and oregano in the case of chimichurri, and basil and Italian parsley in pesto — are combined with garlic and seasonings and added to an olive oil base.
The exact origins of the name “chimichurri” have been lost to time, but stories abound to suggest how the sauce got its name. Oddly enough, these stories differ in detail but not too much in kind. One version has at its center an Irishman named Jimmy McCurry, who was traveling with native troops in Argentina’s nineteenth-century struggle for independence. Jimmy McCurry is said to have been the creator of the sauce, but his name, being a tongue twister for the locals, morphed into “chimichurri.”
Other stories feature Jimmy Curry, an English importer of Argentine beef, or James C. Hurray, a Scotsman on the hoof with some gauchos. In both of these cases as well, the local tongue managed to turn j’s to ch’s, and the new name stuck.
Although it is typically served with beef, chimichurri can be eaten with pretty much any variety of grilled or roasted meat, poultry, and even fish. It is available prepared in jars and as a powder that is reconstituted wth oil and water or vinegar. Although these can be convenient options, making chimichurri from scratch is easy and the payoff is big — commercially processed sauces cannot compared to the taste of fresh herbs.
What is a Chimichurri Burger?
The chimichurri burger is similar to the American hamburger, differing mostly in the spices added to the ground meat and to the toppings placed on the burger. It’s a popular fast food selection in the Dominican Republic, where street vendors may sell the chimichurri burger or you may find it in small outdoor food stands. It’s also becoming popular in the US, since the extra spices can mean a more satisfying taste with a little less meat. They’ve also become a choice burger, minus the bun, on low carbohydrate diets like the South Beach Diet.
One of the principle spices added to the chimichurri burger is oregano, but then preferences diverge on what other spices may be added. Alternately, the burgers may have chimichurri sauce, a popular Argentinean sauce, which is a mixture of vinegar, garlic cloves, parsley, and red pepper flakes. This sauce is added to the meat mixture to provide flavorful results when the burger is grilled.
In the Dominican Republic, the chimichurri burger is served on a bun, and may be topped with traditional hamburger toppings. Yet it also gets an additional topping of shredded cabbage in mayonnaise, similar to coleslaw and the coleslaw burger. This extra fiber is excellent, and once again, filling. If you’re following a diet like South Beach, you omit the bun in the first stage of the diet. Later, you can serve the burger on a whole wheat or multi-grain low carb bun.
18 October 1959, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Asado! Barbecue and Entertainment Blend for a Colorful Argentinean Event” by Frank Tolbert, section 9, pg. 9:
The beef is served with something called “chimichurri sauce.” A recipe for this sauce for 10 people requires four cloves of garlic, three laurel leaves, one spoonful of powdered red pepper, one teaspoon of powdered marjoram, and two spoonsful of coarse salt. These ingredients are crushed in a mortar and then mixed with one half portion of water, one quarter portion of vinegar and some oil. After shaking this mixture it should stand for two or three days in a covered jar or bottle. Chimichurri is sometimes used on the meat while it is roasting.
22 July 1965, Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, WA), “Barbecue in Argentina Means Beef Ribs, Gin” by Kenneth L. Davis, pg. 17, col. 6:
Or, there’s chimichurri. Fill a bottle halfway with vinegar to which you add two or three spoonsful of oil and four of red pepper powder, four garlic eyes, black-pepper seeds and aromatic spices to taste. Then you let it age in the bottle.
A few drops on the meat is enough, but shake it first.
22 November 1970, New York (NY Times, “The Traveler’s World” by Paul J. C. Friedlander, pg. 430:
A RECIPE FOR CHIMICHURRI
The recipe for chimichurri sauce is fairly simple. Start with a catchup or wine bottle and put in equal parts of a good vinegar and olive oil or any salad oil. A quarter cup of each will do. Then add, also in about equal proportions of between a half and a full tablespoon, dried oregano, garlic, basil, pepper corns and a modest amount of mild chili peppers. Shake well, cork and set aside to ripen at room temperature for two days. Then the chimichurri will be ready for use in small quantities to flavor meat, poultry and even fish. Bottles of chimichurri stand on the tables of most popular restaurants in Argentina where it is used more lavishly than most Yankees can take the spicy, pungent, aromatic sauce. A lively change from catchup, and certainly more civilized on steak and even lamb chops.
15 July 1981, New York (NY) Times, “Outdoor Cooking with Latin Flavor” by Moira Hodgson, pg. C6:
(Argentine spicy sauce)
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
Juice of 3 lemons
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 green chili, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
Coarse salt to taste
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped.
Combine the oil and vinegar, then mix in remaining ingredients.
NOTE: This sauce keeps for several months in a sealed bottle.
15 January 1988, New York (NY) Times, “Diner’s Journal” by Bryan Miller, pg. C20:
At La Fusta, a popular neighborhood Argentine restaurant in Elmhurst, Queens, the lusty and well-cooked parrillada (sans kidney and liver) comes with a jar of chimichurri, a piquant sauce made with garlic, parsley and olive oil.
18 October 1989, New York (NY) Times, “At the Nation’s Table: Houston,” pg. C3:
The most popular choice is the namesake churrasco, a butterflied beef tenderloin seared over charcoal and basted with chimichurri sauce, a pesto-like concoction of olive oil, fresh garlic, parsley and spices.
Quisqueya La Bella:
The Dominican Republic in Historical and Cultural Perspective
by Alan Cambeira
Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe
Chimichurri: A kind of hamburger, only spicier, with lettuce, tomato, and onions, and normally sold by pushcart vendors on the streets.
16 December 1998, New York (NY) Times, “Bolivar” restaurant review by Ruth Reichl, pg. F18:
They are all served with chimichurri, the parsley, olive oil and garlic sauce that is Argentina’s greatest contribution to the culinary canon.
3 November 2002, New York (NY) Times, “In Harlem Night Owls Go Hungry Near a Park” by Seth Kugel, City section, pg. 7:
Last year, business boomed at Jose Sanchez’s chimichurri truck on Hamilton Place in Hamilton Heights. After a deal brokered by Guillermo Linares, a former city councilman, to resolve complaints about Dominican food vendors in northern Manhattan, Mr. Sanchez received a three-year Parks Department concession to sell fried meats and hamburgerlike chimichurris across the street from Montefiore Park.
Google Groups: alt.cooking.chien
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 02:17:37 -0400
Local: Tues, Jun 3 2003 1:17 am
Subject: PAMPAS BURGERS WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE
PAMPAS BURGERS WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE
For the chimichurri sauce:
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, washed and trimmed
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. distilled white vinegar
1/4 t. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 c. chopped pitted black olives
1/2 medium-sized red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
For the burgers:
1 lb. ground sirloin
1/2 medium-sized green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. coarsely ground black pepper
To make the chimichurri sauce, pulse the garlic and parsley together in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the oil, vinegar, black pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano and olives and pulse until well combined but not smooth. Stir in the bell pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Set aside.
To make the burgers, in a medium mixing bowl gently mix together all the ingredients and form into 4 patties, each 1/2-inch thick.
Prepare a grill; lightly oil the grill grate. Cook the burgers to the desired degree of doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare.
Makes 4 servings.
From “The Great Big Burger Book’’ by Jane Murphy and Liz Yeh Singh
(Harvard Common Press, 2003).
4 January 2004, New York (NY) Times, “What’s doing in Houston” by Kathryn Jones, pg. TR12:
...Bruce Molzan of Ruggles Grill in Houston will dish up chipotle barbecue tenderloin of beef with red and green chimichurri.
The Complete Guide to Latino Life in the Five Boroughs
by Carolina Gonazlez and Seth Kugel
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin
“Chimi” trucks look like ice cream trucks, but the bow hearts in the display case just about where the Creamsicle photo should be are the first indication that you’ve left the world of the chocolate-vanilla swirl far behind. The trucks are named after the Dominican version of hamburgers, but the biggest sellers are the frituras, organ meats best translated as “don’t ask which part of the cow we deep-fried.”
(...) (Pg. 74—ed.)
The easy way out is just to order a $3 or $4 chimi, a seasoned ground beef patty on a roll, buried in a drippy, sloppy, mayonnaise-y mess of shredded cabbage and thin tomato slices. (...) The best-known and seemingly most hygienic, chimi truck is El Pelucho (in Inwood, Manhattan, on Ninth Avenue near 204th Street).
14 June 2006, Grand Rapids (MI) Press, “Well-traveled locals improvise new flavors to share with friends” by Jaye Beeler, pg. C1:
To make Tina Bain’s grilled flank steak with chimichurri sauce, you toss parsley, cilantro, garlic cloves and dried hot red pepper flakes in the food processor with a splash of olive oil, lime juice and red wine vinegar, and whirl everything together.
(...) (Pg. C2—ed.)
1 bunch of fresh Italian parsley
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon (or more) dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste (...)
20 June 2007, Lawrence (KS) Journal-World, “‘Jayni’s Kitchen’ features taste of Argentina,” food section, pg. ?:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh parsley. finely minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the red wine vinegar, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, parsley, garlic and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Pass the sauce at the table to drizzle over grilled meats. Makes about 2/3 cup.
—Recipe by Jayni Carey
27 July 2007, New York (NY) Times, “52 Ways to Cool Off, and All of Them Free” by Corey Kilgannon, pg. E27:
Nearby, a woman sells johnnycakes, fried, flat dough snacks, for $1 apiece from her shopping cart, along with the popular Dominican fruit shake known as morir sonando ( ‘‘to die dreaming’’ ), made from oranges, milk, sugar and chopped ice. Outside the bathhouse trucks parked at the curb sell chimichurri (meat sandwiches) and steaming plates of chicken, pork or beef with rice and beans.
dominican chimichurri burgers
Gourmet | September 2007
No need to worry about why this Dominican burger shares a name with the Argentinean sauce—nobody knows. Instead, just call it a chimi, grab a cold beer, and enjoy!
Active time: 35 min Start to finish: 45 min
Servings: Makes 4 servings
1 1/4 pound ground beef chuck
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 hamburger buns, split
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 small red onion, cut into rings
1 tomato, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yellow mustard (...)
Chowhound- Manhattan - Best Taco Truck?
Or if you like eating food from trucks in general and you are in Washington Heights I recommend the line of Domincan chimi trucks that park along Amsterdam Avenue before the on-ramp for the Cross Bronx Expressway. The tostones and the yuca with pickled purples onions on tip can be fantastic, not to mention the chicharron, that is, if you eat meat. I recommend the one called La China.
Whorebivore Oct 25, 2007 12:56AM
29 October 2007, Nation’s Restaurant News, “Restaurateurs get big business out of small sandwiches, burgers” by Paul Frumkin, pg. 1:
Scott Randolph, senior director of culinary research and development for T.G.I. Friday’s, said the Dallas-based casual-dining chain debuted miniature chimichurri sliders and cheeseburger sliders in September, and since then the popular burgers have emerged as “an instant Friday’s classic.”