Californian Cindy aka the WinoGal shares her favorite wine and food match, with a great recipe to go with it.
A mouth-watering Portuguese Chimichurri sauce turned into a Pizza with Don Quixote Wine? It sounds YUM!!
Find and follow Cindy Lemos on Twitter.com/WinoGal
“Growing up on a cattle ranch in far northern California, my Portuguese Grandmother made an exotic sauce that she called “chimichurri” for our big family barbeques after we’d spent the day running cattle from one field to another or the annual branding effort held at Grandpa’s ranch.
It was comprised of minced white onion, chopped parsley, chopped oregano, olive oil and a little white wine vinegar. It always accompanied bowls of boiled potatoes and thinly sliced, grilled steak fresh from my Grandparent’s E-8 Ranch in Edgewood.
Years later in college, I started experimenting with other variations as I’d moved to San Diego and acquired a taste for spicier foods. This one is my favorite variation. It won acclaim for me when it was chosen in a blind recipe competition against many local culinary-trained chefs who also competed… I am a mere kitchen chef.
For that winning recipe, my chimichurri sauce was served over freshly fried thick red potato chips and chunks of room temperature cotija cheese. It is equally good used as a marinade for steak and then as accompaniment to thinly sliced skirt steak or tri-tip. Today, I’m using it as the sauce for a Portuguese Ranch Style Pizza!
In keeping with the spicy nature of the chimichurri and the pizza itself, I decided to pair it with a medium body Tempranillo from Spain ~ Albardiales 2012 to be exact. Appropriately, it hails from the La Mancha region, well known from the Don Quixote “tilting at windmills” lore.
The regal ruby/purple color as you swirl it in your glass is followed by an almost austere first impression. Don’t be fooled. This vintage smoothly rolls across your palate as bright cherry and black currant fruit melds into a delightful finish with just a hint of anise.
It is a perfect foil for my pizza. And indeed, it would also go incredibly well with that ranch fresh beef I described above. As you savor my avant-garde pizza with this Don Quixote wine, remember his motto: all things are possible and always “Dream the Impossible Dream.”
Cindy Lemos aka The WinoGal‘s Signature Chimichurri
1 medium head of garlic, chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeds removed & chopped
1 Serrano chili, seeds removed & chopped
½ medium white onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon finely minced, fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
“shredded” zest of a lime
1/8 tsp salt
juice from ½ large lime
¼ cup plus ½ cup olive oil
I always remove the stems from my cilantro because I don’t like their texture in my chimichurri. Be sure to rinse your cilantro well & let drain well in a collander because sometimes it is very dirty. When you have all leaves left, coarsely chop.
“Shredded” lime zest uses that very fine grate you’ll find on the side of most kitchen cheese graters. This is my Secret Ingredient – it just adds a special little kick to my chimichurri.
In a large bowl combine cilantro, minced vegetables, oregano, chili flakes & lime zest. Sprinkle with the salt and toss well to mix. Drizzle the lime juice over entire mixture, then add ¼ cup of olive and mix thoroughly. Use remaining ½ cup of olive oil to pour over the entire mixture in bowl. Don’t worry about having too much oil! The flavor it takes on is phenomenal and you can use it to cook an omelette, marinate skirt steak or many other purposes.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to let flavors marry for at least 3 hours.
WinoGal’s Portuguese Ranch Pizza
I use a pizza stone. Imperative for the perfect crust.
I also cheat and buy WinCo’s fabulous pizza dough… a HUGE bargain at $1.48 a pop. I prefer very thin crust so this yeast risen dough makes three (3) 12” round pizzas. They traditionally have both plain white and whole wheat – I use the plain white for this recipe because it pairs better with these ingredients.
In the event you don’t have a WinCo close by, google pizza crust & choose your favorite. I’ve done my own in my bread dough machine using the dough setting.
Preheat oven to 350 with pizza stone inside. Toss a few spoons of course cornmeal onto the stone.
Divide the dough into 2 or 3 balls & select one. Liberally cover your rolling surface with flour and roll with rolling pin until your crust is 12” in diameter. I use a marble cutting board & rolling pin.
With a fine grade strainer, put approximately ¾ cup of the chimichurri in and let drain sufficiently. Be sure to reserve the liquid. It can be used for marinade, salad dressing or a drizzle on scrabbled eggs.
You don’t want it bone dry, however too much oil/liquid will make the crust oily and soggy which is not the desired result. You can use a large spoon to press down slightly to remove a bit more liquid. You’ll know you are ready to use when no liquid is seeping onto your spoon as you lightly press down on it.
WinoGal’s Signature Chimichurri Sauce (above)
6 oz Mozzarella Cheese, grated
3-4 oz fresh chorizo from a Mexican market meat counter – this is the best kind because its not too oily like many of the prepackaged types
½ cup thinly sliced white onion
½ cup each red & yellow bell pepper slices (about 1/3 of each medium sized bell pepper)
2-3 oz crumbled (fresh if you can get it) cotija cheese
When oven hits 350 degrees, carefully situate your crust on the stone. Set timer for 4 minutes. It will bubble up a bit, no worries. Just punch it lightly with a folk before putting anything on it.
Now spread your sauce all over the crust, use a spoon to distribute evenly around the entire crust.
I like to use a liberal layer of my sauce – about ¼ inch thick all around – the ¾ cup of chimichurri noted above should work nicely. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese around the crust. Set timer for 4 minutes.
Now you are ready to add the toppings. Drop small spoons (about ½ tsp each) of the chorizo all around your pizza. Then scatter the red & yellow pepper slices and onion slices around the pizza. Set timer for 3 minutes.
Finally sprinkle the cotija cheese over the top. Set timer for 3 minutes.
If you are going with a very thin crust like I do, it should be done now. You’ll know by checking the color of the crust. You want it to be golden. A thicker crust may take another 3-5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set on top of your range to “rest” for 5 minutes before cutting.
My final coup de grace is to toss a bit of Smoked Serrano Sea Salt over the top before serving. Raise your glass to Don Quixote and enjoy!!”
A huge thank you to Cindy The WinoGal for sharing this great recipe with the world’s wine & food community. Can’t wait to bake it, and try it!!
Find Cindy on Twitter.com/WinoGal.