As a native Argentinean born in Patagonia and raised in Buenos Aires, Natalia Machado knows her meat. After training under Maricel Presilla (as some say, the Julia Child of Latin cuisine), Machado took over as executive chef of Industria Argentina, Libertador, and Azul. She shares her recipe for Rib Eye Steak (Ojo de Bife) with Chimichurri and Criollo sauces.
“It’s said that every Argentinean has his or her own (and always the best) chimichurri sauce that there is,” says the 31-year-old chef. “These recipes are part of a family’s heritage. You could find as many chimichurri recipes as there are restaurants in Argentina.”
So, is steak really a man’s game?
“I bring a feminine touch to everything in my kitchen, but generally I don’t think food could be gender specific, or at least it hasn’t been that way for me. My mom is in charge of the grill at home… It’s empowering, and satisfying to be behind a grill.”
Rib Eye Steak with Chimichurri and Criollo
Yield: 5 cups
1 bunch flat leaf-parsley, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp coarse salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp chili flakes
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the oil and vinegar, and mix well. Stir in 1/4 cup water and the vinegar and let rest for 30 minutes. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 95 degrees F. Slowly add the warm oil to the bowl, stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
Transfer it to an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. The flavors will develop and enhance overnight. For best results, prepare at least 2-3 days ahead of time. Chimichurri can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Yield: 3 cups
1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium red bell peppers, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 large ripe beef tomato (or 2 large plum), seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup corn oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (or a great white wine vinegar like Muscatel wine vinegar or white balsamic)
1 tbsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the onion, peppers, and tomato, and mix well. Add the salt, pepper, and vinegar, and let rest for 15 minutes. While stirring, slowly add the oils. Place the mixture in a glass or plastic container with the lid, and store it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes until cold. This sauce is best fresh, but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Rib Eye Steak
Add a small bag of coals in the center of your grill and light. When the coals turn gray and ashy on the outside (about 15 minutes), distribute them evenly. Cover with the lid for 10-15 minutes more before grilling steaks.
Rub four 1 1/2-inch-thick rib-eye steaks (about 14 oz each) with generous amounts of salt and freshly ground pepper. Grill steaks to preferred doneness, about 7 minutes on each side for a juicy medium-rare, or 10 minutes for medium. Serve right off the grill with your favorite Argentinean salsas, described above.