Choripan, an Argentinian sandwich with chorizo and topped with chimichurri
Don’t cry, it’s time for Argentina!
That’s the best I could do with that.
Saturday has been…pretty perfect, and I was not about to spend the first nice day we’ve had in a billion years inside slaving over a stove. Nope. Good thing for me is that Argentina is all about the grill. Meat on the grill. Summer food. I couldn’t have timed this better.
Before I get to the summer appropriate dish I have in store, let’s talk about the food of Argentina.
While doing the research, I was shocked to find such a big difference between the food of Argentina and that of Brazil. I mean, they’re practically neighbors! Though, I guess proximity means nothing. Silly assumption.
Asado, or barbecue, is the nation’s trademark, specifically barbecued beef. The cow that comes from Argentina is some of the best in the world, grass-fed by default, and because of this, it’s rarely seasoned with little more than salt and pepper, though often accompanied by chimichurri sauce. Alternatively, if you’re not about the beef, have no fear- other popular choices are chorizo, blood sausage, lamb and goat. Despite having extensive coastlines, seafood is really only popular in the southern Patagonia region.
Off the grill, Argentina’s cuisine draws from its Native American heritage with dishes laden with squash, potatoes and corn, especially in the mountainous northern region. When a wave of nearly one million European immigrants arrived in the late 1800s, mostly from Italy and Spain, it transformed the cuisine in such a way that some of Argentina’s signature dishes are chock full of the Mediterranean flair of these two countries, almost more recognizable as European rather than South American.
Not only Italy and Spain made their mark on Argentinian plates- Argentina’s food also draws from the German and Swiss, evidenced by its love of bread, pastry creams and sweets galore. A country after my own heart.
While the Argentinians also share a love of some dishes that I’ve already made- empanadas, dulce de leche, alfajores– I’m excited to make dishes this week that are completely new to me: milanesa with gnocchi, medialunas (croissants), and today’s goodness, choripan.
Choripan is perhaps one of the most popular street foods in Argentina. The basis of it is fresh chorizo (not cured), grilled and served atop some crusty French bread, but the star of the show is no doubt the chimichurri sauce that drapes the whole shebang. Chimichurri is comprised of little more than fresh herbs, some spices, garlic and vinegar, pureed to perfection in minutes and changing the game for this whole dish. For some, this sandwich is merely the appetizer before the asado comes out, but for me, this was all she wrote.
I served mine with some of the pico that I made for the Silpancho Cochabambino, but any sort of onion salad would work, or none at all if you prefer. If you can’t find fresh chorizo, a good substitute is Italian sausage. Due to the simplicity of the choripan, fresh ingredients are key. No stale rolls. No hard sausage. No soggy herbs.
- 2 raw chorizo sausages
- 2 fresh, crusty French rolls, or a demi-French loaf, sliced in half.
- Pico de gallo
- 1 cup fresh cilantro
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano
- 2 TB red wine vinegar
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 4 TB olive oil
- Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth, or desired consistency is achieved. Set aside.
- Preheat the broiler or grill to medium-high. Once hot, grill chorizo links on all sides, turning every 2 minutes or so, until outsides are brown and crisp.
- On a cutting board, cut each sausage lengthwise and put back on the grill, cut side down, to ensure it's cooked through, about another 5 minutes.
- Fill each roll or baguette with sausage and cover with the pico and chimichurri sauce. Devour. Repeat.
- If fresh chorizo is not available, use Italian sausage.
- If fresh oregano is not available, use 4 tsp dried.