Easy Stovetop Churrasco Steak with Chimichurri
Elevate your steak game on a — GASP! — weeknight with this easy stovetop version of a seasonally on-point, flavor-packed Latin American grilling standard.
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Photo by Olga Ivanova
As a Milwaukee native, I know my way around a bratwurst, and of course I’ve grilled my share of burgers, chicken, and vegetables. Unfortunately, that’s about as creative as I tend to get when it comes to easy barbecue ideas for busy weeknights (read: not very creative!).
That is, until I learned about stovetop churrasco and started rethinking how traditionally grilled dishes could be cooked. Spoiler alert: They don't necessarily have to be cooked on the grill.
First, what does churrasco mean? It actually has two definitions:
The event where churrasco meat is grilled (In Brazil, folks plan whole events around grilling this steak)
The churrasco meat itself, a boneless cut of beef that is sliced medium-thin and grilled over hot coals or on a very hot skillet.
Churrasco-the-meat is so much sexier than bratwurst. And, it’s freaking delicious.
Add chimichurri to the equation and it’s even better. Let’s face it: Meat by itself is just meat, but meat with sauce is a meal. And churrasco with chimichurri (or churrasco con chimichurri, as it was originally called) is a particularly vibrant combination of smoky steak and summery herbs. Now, what if I told you this classic summer cookout dish could be cooked on the stove for an easy weeknight meal?
Yup, we've got an amazing stovetop churrasco steak with chimichurri recipe to share with you. And you're definitely going to want to pull out your Yummly Smart Thermometer for this one! But before you put on your apron, check out the sections below to learn all about this popular Latin American grilling dish, and our less conventional, but oh-so-simple stovetop approach.
Jump ahead to:
Background and tips for the traditional grilling method:
Tips for our stovetop method:
Photo by Ericka Sanchez
What is churrasco steak?
Churrasco is a Latin American favorite come grilling season. You can find "churrascarias," or steakhouses, serving up the grilled specialty throughout South America. It can be made with a variety of meat cuts: Skirt steak, flap steak, flank steak, and the Brazilian favorite, picanha (part of the sirloin), are all traditional options. It’s yummy with or without chimichurri.
How to prepare churrasco for grilling
If you are planning to make churrasco the traditional way — on the grill — first season or marinate your steak of choice. Some cooks are partial to coating their steak in flour, which helps create a crust around the meat while cooking that seals in flavorful juices. For those who opt for that coating of flour, skip the marinade.
Getting started with stovetop churrasco steak and chimichurri sauce
This tasty recipe from Ericka Sanchez of Nibbles and Feasts has cookout (or churrasco) written all over it, and yet it's prepared and cooked entirely indoors on the stove. The thin flap sirloin called for here, an ideal churrasco steak, is easy to sizzle in a frying pan on high heat — and it’s affordable to boot. It is also perfect for summer: The flavor-packed Argentinian chimichurri churrasco sauce (which you’ll drizzle onto the beef just before serving) highlights the season's fresh herbs.
Thankfully, chimichurri is a no-cook affair — the less you need to use your oven in the summer, the better! It's also a rare chance to use up all of your leftover parsley, since this recipe requires a whopping half cup. Plus it calls for the very welcome addition of fresh cilantro, which punches up the fresh garden flavor even further.
How to marinate stovetop churrasco
For this recipe, we’re all about infusing flavor into our meat with a marinade, and then cooking it on the stove. Recipe developer Ericka Sanchez wisely calls for garlic in two ways: cloves and garlic salt. This ensures that the beef is sufficiently infused with enough delicious, garlicky flavor to balance the brightness of that chimichurri — and also ensures that your guests will shovel forkfuls of the finished product into their mouths with careless abandon.
So, mince those garlic cloves: The finer you mince, the more pronounced the garlic flavor will be. Juice the lime (you may want to buy extra so you can squeeze some more lime juice on everything just before serving), then measure out the olive oil and garlic salt. Stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl, and boom! You’ve got a marinade.
Place the beef in a large zip-top bag and pour that marinade in it. Seal the bag, letting out as much air as you can, then gently massage the marinade into the beef with your fingers. This tenderizes the meat and helps it to absorb those delicious juices. Finally, put the bag in the fridge and let it rest for at least an hour.
Making the chimichurri sauce
First of all, what is chimichurri? Good question. Green chimichurri (there is an alternate red chimichurri that calls for red chilies, but we don’t use that here) is an uncooked sauce made with fresh ingredients — primarily parsley — and sometimes other herbs as well as oil, salt, and vinegar. It’s delicious. A tip: The chimichurri is even better if you make it a couple of hours ahead and let the flavors really meld.
While your steak is busy marinating, you can get to assembling this chimichurri. Finely chop the cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, oregano, the cloves of garlic, garlic salt, and black pepper, and toss them together in a medium-sized bowl. (Set aside the cutting board — you’ll need it again in about an hour, after you’ve cooked the beef.)
Add olive oil (either regular or extra virgin olive oil is fine), red wine vinegar, and red pepper flakes to the bowl with the herbs, then whisk it all together until it’s well-combined. That's it — chimichurri is done! Cover the bowl and refrigerate until you need it.
How to cook churrasco on the stove
This stovetop method is perfect for busy weeknights, or when the weather's not conducive to grilling outside. It's just as easy and just as delicious.
After marinating the churrasco meat (or, alternately, coating it with flour), bring the steak to room temperature on your counter — this will result in more even cooking. Remove the beef from the marinade, shaking gently to let excess marinade drip off before putting it on the heat. Pull out a large frying pan (cast iron is ideal but any kind will do). Add some olive oil to the pan — canola, grapeseed, or any other oil with a high smoke point will also work — then turn the heat up to medium to warm the pan. Cook the beef for five minutes on each side, then place it on a cutting board to rest for at least five minutes before slicing. This ensures that the beef keeps more of its tasty juices, so it will be more flavorful and moister when you cut it. Tip: You can adjust the cooking time depending on the desired temperature (doneness) and the thickness of your steak.
Then comes the fun part: Slice the beef thinly and layer it in a crescent across your serving dish. Spoon the chimichurri down the center of the beef and around the edge of the plate (if you have enough to spare). Add kosher salt and squeezes of lime to taste, and you’ve got a substantial, seasonally on-point main course. Enjoy!