Asado Burger with Chimichurri Sauce
Argentina – oh blessed land of beef lovers – is located on the Southeastern coast of South America, bordered by Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil. It’s a large country whose food and culture is greatly influenced by Europeans (Spanish, Italian and French) who have been coming there since the early 1500’s.
For our purposes, the most important thing to know about Argentinians is that they eat A LOT of beef. Argentina is the number one per capita consumer of beef in the world, 55% higher consumption rate than the US (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade, annual). It is not uncommon for Argentinians to eat beef with two meals a day, so clearly this burger is all about the meat.
One of the most common ways to cook beef is “asado” over an open fire, or barbeque. For the most part, because the flavor of beef is so important, seasoning is simple with just salt added to steaks or roasts so that the meat and smoke of the barbeque are the dominant flavors.
So, here is where the real adventure begins – the challenge, grind my own meat to make the BEST BURGER EVER! Of course, it is never that easy – what kind of meat to use, sirloin or chuck, brisket or ribs, grass fed or feed fed? I played with different cuts of meat and came up with a combination that was both tender and tasty, we had a great time tasting different options, so I encourage everyone to try it yourself and see what ratio of beef cuts you like best.
Even though I’m giving you my original combo below, when I went to repeat this recipe, the chuck didn’t look that good, but they had a really nice sirloin tip that had good marbling so I used 100% sirloin tip last night and it was fantastic. The lesson learned here is that you need to look at the neat available and find something that looks good with enough fat to keep your burger tasty.
One other beef note, we did a side by side taste test of grass fed vs. feed fed beef and there is a taste difference (as a person who made her living in marketing not long ago, I was dubious, hence the taste test). My whole family liked the grass fed beef slightly better – however, none of us liked it enough to justify the $2 per pound price difference. I used grass fed beef for this burger, but I doubt I will go to the expense of buying grass fed again. That being said – fresh is incredibly important, makes a big difference in flavor. Buy your meat (ground or not) the day you are cooking burgers, once you try a really fresh burger, you’ll never want one from meat that’s sat in the fridge for a few days.
Chimichurri sauce is a staple of the Argentine table and is served as a condiment. Unlike the chimichurri that you get in restaurants in the US, the Argentine version is more like a vinaigrette than a chili sauce. I loved it so much, I dipped my burger in the sauce. You can adjust the recipe to your own flavor preferences, add onion or shallots, increase or decrease the red pepper, add tomatoes, etc… Unlike many other South American countries, Argentinians do not generally eat spicy food, the flavors are much more European than what Americans think of as typically Latin. The sauce could be used on a veggie burger, but it feels a little disloyal to the beef loving Argentinians, proceed at your own risk…
This recipe gives you instructions on best practices for grilling (giving the asado part of the burger), but yesterday it was a little cold to dig out the BBQ, so we cooked indoors on my standard grill pan and the burger was still delicious. The only big difference is that it’s almost impossible to get enough heat on the stove top to surround the burger and melt the cheese (as you can see from the picture), taste is still good, so never fear.
This is the easiest burger yet to make – the only trick is make the sauce ahead of time. We served it with an Argentinian Malbec, which seemed a good idea, but I tried a new one that was recommended by the little write up at shelf – it was lousy. Las Perdices 2008 Malbec, too acidic and cheap tasting ($15.99 retail) – we tossed it and opened a bottle of 7 Deadly Zins – a good old standby, inexpensive but tasty. There are good Malbecs out there, we won’t give up.
10 ounces of beef chuck steak
6 ounces of beef sirloin steak
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
4 ounces manchego cheese sliced very thin
8 slices Italian bread
1 clove garlic
Chimichurri sauce (recipe below)
Put the chuck and the sirloin in the freezer for ½ hour before you begin (you want it cold, not frozen). Cut the steak into 1 inch cubes. Place ¼ of the cubes into a food processor with metal blade and pulse until steak is ground evenly. Put the ground beef into a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the beef. Add salt to the ground beef and mix by hand. Form four patties about ½-¾ inch thick.
Prepare a charcoal grill and bring to med-high heat (if you can hold your hand about 5 inches over the grill for 3-4 seconds, that’s about the right temp). Put the cover on the grill and let it heat up for about 5 minutes. Remove the cover, dip a paper towel in vegetable oil and oil the grill grate. Place the burgers on the grill, cook uncovered for about 2-3 minutes, then turn. From here the cooking time will vary depending on how you like your burger cooked. I found for a well done burger (no pink), it takes about six more minutes, but this varies so much depending on exact thickness of burger and temp of grill that you are going to have to be the judge for your own circumstance. When the burgers are almost done (about a minute left to cook), add the cheese and put the grill cover on. Manchego doesn’t melt to a creamy texture, it acts more like a really well aged cheddar, so don’t overcook your burger trying to get a smooth melt.
Meanwhile, lightly oil an indoor grill pan and place the bread slices on the grill to toast. Turn after the bread browns slightly. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the garlic over the toasted bread. This can be done before you grill the burgers.
Place each patty on a piece of toast and top with 1-2 Tablespoons of Chimichurri Sauce, then finish with remaining bread. Serve with the rest of the Chimichurri Sauce in a bowl for those who can’t resist adding more.
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
¾ cup flat leaf parsley
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
Dash red pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients in a mini food processor and blend until smooth. Let the mixture sit at room temperature overnight (minimum 12 hours).
©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach