This traditional churrasco recipe is accompanied by a flavorful chimichurri sauce. It’s quick and easy to make, and the flavor is incredible thanks to a quick marinade in Cuban mojo.
Churrasco is an ideal dish for upcoming barbecues and summer cookouts.
I grew up eating churrasco as a kid in Miami, Florida. On every street in South Florida, you can find mom and pop eateries that speak no English but serve the best grilled chicken and steaks with rice and beans, and churrasco is extremely popular.
WHAT IS CHURRASCO?
Churrasco (pronounced chur-rahs-co) is a Portuguese-Brazilian term for a barbecue, which was invented by the gauchos who ran the cattle ranches, where they would gather their families and communities for a large meal of barbecued meats.
The men would dig huge pits to grill over, and while the meat was being prepared and roasted, the ladies and children would bring ingredients from their gardens to make side dishes and accompaniments.
While churrasco originated in Brazil, it is now made in several South American countries, including Argentina and Uruguay.
In Argentina and Uruguay, churrasco is any boneless grilled steak that is sliced thin and frequently served with chimichurri sauce.
The grilled steak in Ecuador is seasoned with chimichurri sauce and served with avocados and fries.
The dish churrasco shown here, served with chimichurri sauce, was brought to the United States by Nicaraguan immigrants who arrived in Miami in the 1950s.
WHAT KIND OF MEAT IS CHURRASCO?
Churrasco is typically made with thin cuts of tender beef, such as flank steak, skirt steak, sirloin, or tenderloin.
Before cooking, thicker cuts of meat, such as tenderloin, are usually butterflied or cut into thinner pieces.
I usually use skirt steak because it is naturally thin, so you don’t have to cut it before grilling, and it has a lot of flavor.
WHAT IS CHIMICHURRI SAUCE?
As you can see, chimichurri is the preferred churrasco sauce.
Chimichurri sauce is an Argentine herbaceous sauce made with parsley and other herbs, olive oil, garlic, red chilis, a little vinegar or lemon juice, coarse salt, and other ingredients.
This stuff is amazing on steak, chicken, and vegetables; it basically elevates the flavor of any dish you put it on.
HOW TO MAKE CHURRASCO AND CHIMICHURRI SAUCE
Churrasco is most commonly made with skirt steak, a common cut of beef that can be found at any grocery store.
It’s a long, skinny cut that comes from the cow’s ‘plate’ area, under the ribs. It’s lean and tough, and should be cooked to medium rare.
It’s prized for its beefy flavor rather than tenderness. That’s where a quick 30 minute mojo marinade comes in.
Mojo is a Cuban marinade made with citrus, oil, and a lot of garlic that adds a lot of flavor while tenderizing the skirt steak.
Skirt steak goes well with almost any marinade, so go ahead and use it!
The chimichurri comes next. I like to make it ahead of time, but it also tastes good fresh. I already have a full recipe for chimichurri sauce, so go check it out!
It’s literally just a medley of fresh herbs for a sauce, but it might be the best sauce you’ve ever had. Never, ever.
You can cook this steak inside on a hot grill pan or cast iron skillet, or you can grill it outside for your summer barbecues. It’s really that easy!
INGREDIENTS FOR CHURRASCO
Optional Mojo Marinade It’s not required, but I love a good marinade, honey. And the mojo flavors definitely add a nice tropical flavor with the citrus in it, as well as tons of garlic.
Skirt Steak. Make sure to ask your butcher for the ‘inner skirt.’ The outer skirt is wider and has a tough membrane that you must remove. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. All you need is a little seasoning!
Chimichurri. Making this sauce is simple if you have a blender or food processor. If you don’t, it’ll still be a breeze, but you’ll be mincing and finely chopping all your herbs and garlic by hand.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH CHURRASCO
Serving churrasco with chimichurri, an oil-based sauce made with fresh herbs, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and spices, is a must.
The combination of churrasco and chimichurri sauce is a match made in heaven!
Churrasco can also be served with mashed potatoes, twice-fried plantains (tostones), white rice, or a fresh avocado cucumber salad.
There are numerous side dishes that go well with this classic recipe.
- Potatoes: Steak and potatoes are an unbeatable combination! Churrasco can be served with mashed potatoes, french fries, or roasted potatoes. If you want to cut back on carbs, replace the mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower.
- Vegetables: With my steak, I usually serve a green vegetable such as asparagus, green beans, broccoli, or spinach.
- Grains: Serve your meat with steamed rice, which will soak up all of the great flavors of the chimichurri!
TIPS FOR THE PERFECT DISH
- I recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure your steak is cooked to your liking. I usually cook my steak to medium, which is about 140 degrees F.
- This dish tastes best when served immediately. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.
- If it’s too cold to grill outside, use an indoor grill pan or cook the meat in a heavy skillet on the stovetop.
- For the most tender pieces of meat, slice your skirt steak against the grain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Churrasco is a Latin American term for a long flat cut of skirt steak marinated in a citrus-garlic mojo sauce and grilled to juicy perfection. This tender steak is then accompanied by a delectable chimichurri sauce.
Cooking skirt steak quickly and hot results in a tender piece of meat. The short flash time (a few minutes on each side) ensures a juicy finish.
Churrasco is most commonly made with skirt steak, a common cut of beef that can be found at any grocery store. It’s a long, skinny cut that comes from the cow’s ‘plate’ area, under the ribs. It’s lean and tough, and should be cooked to medium rare. It’s prized for its beefy flavor rather than tenderness.
Chimichurri, an uncooked sauce from Argentina and Uruguay that combines various spices in a red wine vinegar and olive oil mixture, is one of the most popular sauces served with churrasco. Horseradish, malagueta pepper hot sauce, mint sauce, and mint jelly are some of the other sauces commonly served on the side.