Tag Archives: oregano

CHIMICHURRI AND VITAMIX

Recently I celebrated my birthday. I was surprised when a big box came from my family. It turned out to be a gleaming Vitamix food machine. I can hear some of you asking, “What will the old goat do with that?”  It seems akin to buying $2000 skis for a duffer who only skis greens or a Sunday driver receiving a Ferrari. Still others are thinking that, after all,  its only a blender.  A Vitamix is way more than a blender – it has a full 2 horsepower motor with speeds up to 37,000 rpm and variable speeds between 12,000 and 24,000 rpm. It will grind up just about anything without a single whine. It  sounds like those are specs straight out of a Ferrari ad. Now if I can only learn to drive it like a Ferrari.

I spent the first day reading all of the manuals and recipe books. I definitely did not want to destroy the machine during its first outing in the kitchen. Then, I had to think of something to make. Creamed soups prepared in a Vitamix are supposed to be so smooth that they don’t require  straining through a sieve or chinois. Soups are definitely on my list of things to make, but I wanted something to go with the meal I had already planned: pot roast and roasted potatoes. Some sort of sauce seemed like a good choice. Salsa verde and romesco came to mind. One of my food blogger friends , writing with the title of Back Road Journal, had provided a great recipe for the Dominican sauce, wasakaka (Isn’t that a great word to say?). That struck me as very similar to one of my favorites, the Argentinian chimichurri that goes so well with roasted beef.

The Vitamix cook book didn’t have the recipe, but I found one to modify in the Joy of Cooking. For a first pass, the chimichurri turned out to be easy and flavorful, but I will probably add some tweaks for my next effort. If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can use a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until you get the right consistency, and be careful not to blend for too long.  Of course, you can always chop things by hand. You’ll just have to do it more finely. Also, there is a severe sensitivity to chiles in our household, so I usually omit them, but you can definitely mince some jalapeño or add some cayenne.

Finally, a big THANKS to all my family for such a thoughtful gift.

RECIPE

Chimichurri

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar (If you don’t have red wine vinegar, another vinegar will do.)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, washed and stems removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves OR 1 tablespoon dry Mexican oregano.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional or to taste)

Method

  1. Pour the vinegar and olive oil into the Vitamix container. Make sure the cover is in place. Set the speed indicator to High. Turn the machine on and process for about 15 seconds or until the vinegar-oil mixture is emulsified. Turn off the machine.
  2. Add the parsley, garlic, onion, oregano, salt, pepper, and optional cayenne pepper. Set the speed indicator to Variable and Variable knob to 3. Make sure the cover is in place, turn on the machine and as you process gradually turn up the rate to 6. Process for 20 seconds or until the mixture is the desired consistency. Be careful not to over-process. Turn off the machine. Transfer the chimichurri to a bowl, adjust the seasoning if needed, and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

14 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

MORE FARMERS MARKET DINNER: BRAISED LAMB SHANKS

San Francisco’s Ferry Building Farmers Market is much more than the outdoor stalls which attract crowds a couple of days each week. There are all sorts of shops inside the building selling everything from kitchen gear to local caviar. The cheese shops are outstanding, the bakeries are great, and the mushroom place has a huge choice of the freshest specimens. For the carnivores, there are several great shops, but a favorite of both Sarah and me is Prather Ranch. We bought four succulent lamb shanks already done up in plastic, but clearly very fresh. These would be the centerpiece of our farmers market meal.

Turning the braising lamb shanks

After getting the lamb shanks home, Sarah browned them in a huge Magnalite casserole along with a couple of cloves of smashed garlic and some aromatic vegetables: carrots and onions. Chefs seem divided over the use of celery in the classic mirepoix combination of onions, celery, and carrots. Some refuse to use celery as they think it is too bitter. Whatever your own personal bias might be, be sure to brown the lamb shanks in some oil and your choice of vegetables. Add some stock or water and a good slug of red wine. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in a generous handful of fresh thyme and Mediterranean (not Mexican) oregano. Bring to a boil, and then cover and reduce the heat to the lowest simmer.

Some purists insist on using rosemary and garlic as the classic seasoning for lamb. You can do that instead if you prefer, but I can guarantee that thyme and oregano work beautifully.

Steaming braising liquid with herbs

Sarah finished her dish over low heat on the stove top, turning and basting frequently as well as skimming off excess fat. If you prefer, you can braise the lamb shanks, covered,  in the oven at low heat – no more than 250°F. Be sure to check the pot frequently and skim the rendered fat. Plan to braise the shanks for at least 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is well done, tender, and falling off the bone.

When they are done to your liking, remove the lamb shanks to a platter and serve them immediately while still warm.

Finished lamb shanks

Lamb shanks vary greatly in size, but in most cases you should allow one for each diner. With only three of us and four lamb shanks we wound up with leftovers.

Ready to serve

3 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes