Secrets and Confessions of an Argentine Carnivore

For someone with a bacon mustache in her bio picture, I realize I have written precious little about meat here in these Simple, Good, and Tasty pages. My swooning and waxing poetic about squash, asparagus, garlic scapes, rhubarb, blueberries, apples and tomatoes (oh, sweet tomatoes) may lead you to believe that I am a feeble carnivore indeed. It just goes to show how eating with the seasons, along with myriad benefits lauded every day here at Simple, Good, and Tasty, has the added perk of increasing one's consumption of fruits and vegetables. To pay attention to what is most ripe and fresh at the farmers market inevitably gets my wheels turning and inspires me to figure out ways to cook and eat those beautiful foods.

Which is not to say that meat isn’t beautiful. In fact, everyone repeat after me: MEAT IS BEAUTIFUL! Or it can be, if raised in a humane, sustainable way. I’m Argentine, so the love of a good steak is etched in my DNA. The taste of grass fed beef triggers Proustian memories of epic red wine soaked barbecues filled with laughter and uncles wielding tongs and towering platters of salty, grilled meat. To me, meat is comfort food. It is celebratory, curative, and deeply satiating. When my son’s frog died recently, I held him while he sobbed, and then, without thinking, I put away the box of pasta I had been planning on making for dinner and drove to the store to buy some great steaks to throw on the grill. How very odd, I thought to myself later, that my knee jerk reaction had been to mourn the death of an amphibian by feeding my family a mammal. I can only chalk it up to the madness of being Argentine.

Since meat means something to me on so many different levels: culturally, emotionally, deliciously, it is important that my meat not be mystery meat. I need to know where it came from, how it was raised, and how it was processed. It’s not enough for it to taste good. It has to be good. And so I pay more to eat less, but that’s as it should be.

My happiest discovery this year has been the Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farm booth at the Kingfield Farmers Market. The Brauchers raise chemical free 100% grass fed beef and lamb and pasture raised chicken and eggs (I love their eggs, as does Rick Nelson of the Star Tribune). Every week I ask the Brauchers if they have any skirt steak, because, frankly, I’m obsessed. (I know the term skirt steak will never be the same after Lady Gaga’s dress of meat, but do yourself a favor and give one a try if you haven’t.) The skirt steak is the diaphragm muscle – long and flat. It is extremely flavorful, if slightly tough, so it does best with a quick hot grill and slicing across the grain. The Braucher’s skirt steak doesn’t need a marinade because the flavor is so beefilicious, but a chimichurri? Well, I never met a piece of beef that didn’t want to tango with a chimichurri, so I’m going to share two of my secret recipes with you.

The first is for a traditional green chimichurri – this would be a good way to use up that parsley that’s hanging on for dear life in your herb garden. It’s fresh and zingy and the herbiness is a perfect pairing for the strong clean taste of grass fed beef.

The second recipe is for a red chimichurri, which you can pretty much always count on finding in my fridge regardless of whether beef is on the menu or not. It is fiery and vinegary and perfectly cuts through the richness of beef, bringing out the smoke and the char. I also find myself putting it on eggs and in soups. And maybe I dipped a grilled cheese sandwich in it once and fainted from the deliciousness. Maybe. For anything meaty, eggy, cheesy, or creamy, this is your sauce.

Que lo disfruten con salud! Enjoy!


Chimichurri Verde (Argentine Green Sauce) - Adapted from New World Kitchen by Norman Van Aken

½ cup minced Italian parsley (you can use half cilantro)

½ cup virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Refrigerated, this will keep for up to 1 month.

Van Aken also suggests mixing some of the chimichurri into mayonnaise for sandwiches or salads. I think this would be a great thing to do with either the red or the green chimichurri.


Chimichurri Rojo (Argentine Red Sauce)  – Adapted from New World Kitchen by Norman Van Aken

½ cup Spanish sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

¼ cup virgin olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons hot paprika*

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds

1 bay leaf, broken in half

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Refrigerated, this keeps for up to 1 month.

*The first time I made this, I didn’t have hot paprika so I used ¾ tablespoon of sweet paprika and ¾ tablespoon of Spanish pimenton. It was so tasty, I never went back to the original recipe.


Gabriela Lambert is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good and Tasty. You can also read more of her writing on her blog