It's All About the (Chimichurri) Sauce
While some people love turkey and others only eat it only reluctantly once a year, for most the sauce or gravy is key. Turkey does have flavor, but to a certain extent it is a blank slate for the various seasonings, rubs, marinades, and other sauces that get lavished on it. And while Thanksgiving is a quintessentially American holiday it is also a holiday that is celebrated by many, many immigrants and visitors who come from just about all over and have extremely varied food traditions and preferences. It is fascinating and encouraging to see and hear about all the multicultural inflections on the American roast turkey. We might be reading too much into this, but it does seem to be a sort of pluralism or multiculturalism in action. Or perhaps it’s just a practical matter of making the turkey taste better and a little more like home.
Our first home was Oaxaca, Mexico so we find ourselves drawn to ways of dressing up turkey that use Mexican flavors (lime, chiles, herbs, and garlic). Food & Wine’s Global Thanksgiving Turkeys offer a number that use Mexican and Spanish approaches that we found intriguing including: Pimenton Roasted Turkey, Chile Roasted Turkey, Ancho Scallion Roast Turkey, and Citrus Marinated Turkey (prepared like cochinita pibil).
But the recipe we’d like to offer you is for Chimichurri sauce, a flavorful and refreshing Argentinian herb, vinegar, and chili sauce that goes wonderfully with lots of things including …. turkey! The recipe we present here is from The Zuni Café Cookbook and it can be used as a sauce or a marinade. It can keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks and its flavor will deepen and improve over time. So even if you don’t try this out for Thanksgiving day give it a try some other time as accompaniment to just about any grilled meat (also goes well with eggs). Makes about 1 ¼ cups.
1 small jalapeño, preferably red
2 teaspoons fresh oregano (tightly packed)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (tightly packed)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (tightly packed)
about 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley (tightly packed)
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 bay leaves, crumbled
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
about ½ teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper to taste
Broil the jalapeño over an open flame or in the broiler. Turn several times until it is freckled with black and smells good, about 1 minute. When the pepper has cooled slightly, halve, seed, and mince it. Don’t rub off the tasty black blisters – include them in the chimichurri.
Place the oregano, thyme, and rosemary in a mortar and pound lightly.
Warm the oil in a small saucepan until it is hot to the touch. Remove from the heat and stir in the bruised herbs, plus all the remaining ingredients, including the jalapeño. (If making chimichurri more than a few hours in advance, wait to add parsley until you are about to use it.) Taste. Leave to infuse for at least one hour at room temperature before serving.