Churrasco (choo-RRAHS-coh) is a delicious and simple grilled cut of marinated beef. Churrasco is a common Latin American grilled meat dish, and it varies by country. You may be familiar with Brazilian Churrascarias, the all-you-can-eat restaurants where waiters bring out all sorts of cuts of meat to your table and slice it as you demand. In Chile, churrasco is actually a meat and bread sandwich. Argentinian churrasco is probably the one that resembles to most to Ecuadorean churrasco in concept – the marinated cut of beef which is then grilled. Argentinian churrasco, or asado Argentino is served with chimichurri (chee-mee-CHOO-rree), a sauce made with parsley, olive oil, garlic and onions and other ingredients. Many Ecuadorean BBQ restaurants, known commonly as parrilladas (pah-REE-yah-dahs) will serve chimichurri sauce with the grilled meats.
Churrasco was one of my favorite foods to eat when I was young (and it still is) – I love beef! We used to have this rackety aluminum grill which we set up in our “terraza” (teh-RRA-sah), our concrete patio in the back of our apartment, and go on an all-day grilling feast. My nana will pour a bag of coal, take some cotton balls soaked in alcohol, light a match and let the coal get hot. We used to grill all sorts of meats and freeze some to eat the rest of the week: flank steaks, butterflied chicken breasts, carne en palito (skewered meat), salchichon (sausages) and verdes (green plantains) y maduros (sweet plantains). So hungry!
I always use flank steak for churrasco because it is tender and flavorful. Churrasco is served with french fries, white rice, a fried egg, plaintains (I used sweet, but green ones are fine), a simple tomato and lettuce salad with encurtido (pickled onions) and sliced avocado. How easy is that? When I served this meal, my husband exclaimed, “Oh, steak and eggs!” The key of this dish is the marinade. Once you have grilled meat with this marinade, you are going to want to use it to grill everything. Enjoy!
1.5-2 lbs of flank steak, cut across the grain in 4
2 large garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
In a food processor, combine the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix. Pour the marinade over the meat and massage the cuts of meat, making sure every piece is coated with the marinade. Let the meat marinade in the fridge at least for an hour. If you leave it overnight, even better!
Heat your grill or grill pan and grill the meat to the cooking temperature of your preference (rare, medium rare, etc.) I grilled mine for a total of 15 minutes at first. I had to throw the meat back in the grill for a few more minutes because my cuts were somewhat thick and the “cow was still mooing”. Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes in a warm place to ensure all the juices redistribute throughout the meat.
For the encurtido, slice a small red onion in thin slices. In a bowl, place the onion slices and pour about 1 tsp of olive oil, the juice of one lemon and season it with salt and pepper. Let the onion marinade for 5-10 minutes until you start seeing the juices turn red. Pour it over the lettuce and tomato salad.
Serve with white rice, plantains, a fried egg, fries (I used Oreida Golden Fries available at grocery stores), lettuce and tomato salad, sliced avocado and encurtido.