Meat is as central to South American cuisine as it is to North American, and this typical salsa—a chimichurri—is a superb meat relish. In Argentina chimichurri is served over lean, range-fed, pampas beef steaks. We prefer using green-tasting fresh Italian parsley in this salsa. Should you find only plain canned jalapeños, then do add some vinegar.
1. Wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands, cut the stems off the jalapeños.
2. In a food processor or using a chef’s knife, chop the chili peppers, onion, and parsley into medium-size pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the oil. Use right away or cover and refrigerate for up to several weeks.
Every year the many Spanish speakers of Northern California hold a Latin American festival in Gilroy. José Feliciano comes to sing, Mexican and Spanish dancers perform, and across a wide grassy field stand booths offering every sort of Latin American food imaginable. The hit of the fair is the Argentine empanadas, folded over pie crusts surrounding fillings similar to tortilla fillings. The empanadas are accompanied by a South American salsa made from jalapeños and lots of parsley that is slathered over the outside. We’ve included our version of the salsa to slather inside North American tacos.
TIP: The special flavor of this salsa depends on using marinated jalapenos. If you cannot find them, use plain canned ones and add ¼ teaspoon dried oregano and 1 teaspoon cider vinegar to the salsa.