It's an assault on the senses. The sizzle of the lime juice hitting the plate, the aroma of the juicy churrasco (skirt steak) that was grilled in the open fire pit in front of me. The expression on my daughters face as goes to town on her favorite rice and beans. But nothing compares to the taste of the green and red chimichurri sauces that define the restaurant and set it apart from all others. The red is a little spicier, but the green is just heavenly. I slather it on and savor every bite. The skirt steak is tender, the lime finishes it with a tangy touch but the sauce is just wow!
I'll take a churrasco with chimichurri over a NY Prime at a traditional steak house any day. If you like a lot of flavor, you will love Mi Bandera in Union City, NJ. We were introduced to Mi Bandera, which means my flag, at our friend's annual birthday party. He would reserve a huge table and over the years we've seen the crowd evolve to include many kids and entire families. It's about half an hour away, which sometimes is just a little far. While it is certainly worth the drive, we've found alternate, more local fixes for Churrasco.
Just within 5 miles of Westfield is My Cuban Rose - a good Cuban restaurant - albeit with a cheesy name and a decidedly unfancy location right off Route 22 East at Michigan Avenue. Their churrasco is a large steak with a standard but yummy green chimichurri. It is often right on my way home and sometimes I pick up steak, chicken or grilled fish with all the traditional sides for a fun meal I know my family will love.
You can make a chimichurri sauce easily at home - typically with red wine vinegar, salt, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, parsley, and olive oil. You can chop or mince the peppers and herbs and make a chunky sauce or pulse a few times in the mini-prep for a more blended sauce. Last spring I wrote about chimichurri on this blog - it was an easy recipe that I spread on grilled skewered shrimp.
Skirt steak is available at any supermarket and is a cook's best kept secret. At about $9/pound you get a steak so long it needs to be folded on the cellophane wrapped package. It's impressive to guests - sometimes it is too long to fit even diagonally on my triple range grill! Skirt steak is crowd pleaser that cooks in no time - 4 minutes per side for medium rare - and you don't have to break the bank. Serve with rice and beans flecked with chopped cilantro - and that $28 bottle of Malbec from CoolVines just paid for itself.
In a pinch - when you have an impromptu bbq at your house and you don't have time to chop and blend, try Savory Spice Shop's Chimichurri Steak Dressing. I keep a jar of it on my spice rack and last week made a perfectly wonderful churrasco on the grill in less than ten minutes. I added the dry spice rub on a lightly oiled steak and tossed it right on the grill. It was a little too spicy for the kids, but the adults loved it. I wish I could have Mi Bandera transported to Westfield, but until that is possible I will cook when I can't make the drive.