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Chefs’ Corner: Chama Gaucha Has a Tangy, Unique Chimichurri Sauce

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Grilled salmon topped with Chama Gaucha's Chimichurri Sauce.

Q. Could you possibly get me the recipe for the chimichurri sauce at Chama Gaucha?

— Cindy

A. Long Phu, the general manager at Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse, 18318 Sonterra Place, was happy to share the basic recipe for this chunky sauce, which he was quick to point out is not like the traditional chimichurri sauce from Argentina.

The Argentine version is made with fresh parsley, garlic and olive oil, while Chama Gaucha’s is made with sautéed bell peppers and onions with a touch of dried herbs while getting a lively kick from vinegar and tomato sauce.

The difference took a few friends by surprise, but most warmed to its tangy charms.

Beef at Chama Gaucha topped with its chimichurri sauce.

Phu didn’t offer any proportions of the ingredients, because part of the fun is playing with it until you get the flavors adjusted to a level that’s right for you. We offer a version to get you started.

This version is great with steaks, such as the many skewered versions that are served at Chama Gaucha, a Brazilian steakhouse. You could also use it with chicken, firm seafood or even grilled portobello mushrooms.

By the way, Chama Gaucha is quietly becoming a chain. The first is the Sonterra Place location, while a second opened in Chicago in 2008. A third opens in Houston on Aug. 24, Phu says.

To reach the restaurant, call (210) 564-9400 or click here for more information.

And if you have a recipe you’d like, email Bonnie Walker or John Griffin.

Chama Gaucha Chimichurri Sauce

Chama Gaucha’s Chimichurri Sauce

1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to taste, divided use
1/2 cup white wine vinegar, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried basil, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried mint, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley, or to taste
4 ounces tomato sauce, or to taste

Lightly sauté the peppers, onion and garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil. You want the vegetables crisp, so don’t overcook them. Remove from heat and add vinegar and more olive oil, to taste. The amount of each is to taste, but it also stems from with how much sauce you want around the vegetables. “It’s almost like a vinaigrette the way it’s prepared,” Phu says, adding that the ratio of oil and vinegar is close to even.

Stir in basil, mint, cilantro, oregano and parsley, and adding more of each to taste. Stir in tomato paste. Adjust seasonings to taste.

The end result should be chunky. It should also be very thick. “This is not a light sauce,” he says.

For those who want it spicier, think of adding jalapeño or spicy paprika to the mix, Phu says.

Adapted from Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse

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