Lets talk. What I have here is something that will turn your homemade food from good to spectacular, Mojo de Ajo, [MOH-hoh day AH-hoh]. Some people call this sauce “liquid gold” because of its’ gold color from the minced garlic and priceless flavor. The name essentially translates to garlic sauce, but some people believe it is more of a condiment than a sauce. While the garlic simmers in olive oil, the raw brashness mellows to a sweet roasted garlic flavor that permeates the olive oil. Mojo de Ajo is worth making and transforms any food it touches.
Liquid Gold is different from garlic infused olive oil you can buy at the store. There is a prominent roasted garlic flavor with a subtle citrus note. Fresh squeezed orange juice sweetens the olive oil and cuts down on any heaviness associated with oil based sauces.
This recipe is from Alex Stupak’s cookbook, Tacos, and is different from other mojo de ajo recipes I’ve seen. His recipe has extra flavor from minced tomatoes. They add a nice texture and makes it more of a condiment, like a salsa. The tomatoes compliment the garlic infusion like the orange juice, and the toasted spices adds just the right amount of heat.
Read my review of Tacos here.
Special Ingredients for Mojo de Ajo
Most of the ingredients in Mojo de Ajo are readily available at any grocery store, but there are two ingredients that need some tracking down, Arbol chilies and Mexican oregano. You can get both of these ingredients at Latin Markets, well stocked spice stores, and some grocery stores. Arbol chili is usually sold dried whole, retaining its shape and red color. It adds a subtle heat to the Mojo de ajo and worth sourcing.
Mexican oregano is different from Italian oregano, in fact they are two different plant families. I do not believe they are interchangeable, because they taste and smell so different. Italian oregano has a mintier flavor and I think is more bitter. Mexican oregano is grassier with a slight citrus flavor. When I toast Mexican oregano, it smells like you just walked into a Grateful Dead concert, so you might not want to make this the same day you have your in-laws over for dinner. Despite the distinctive smell, it does not taste like pot but has an herby flavor that compliments many Mexican meals. If you like to make Mexican cuisine it is a worthwhile herb to have in your spice drawer. I promise you it is not marijuana and I use it in all my Mexican food recipes.
Best Uses for Mojo de Ajo
- Mojo de Ajo is trans-formative and adds great depth of flavor to any dish it’s paired with.
- Drizzle it over grilled meats, chicken, fish or vegetables.
- Braise baby artichokes in Mojo de Ajo instead of the anchovy caper sauce.
- Use the oil to marinate steaks, then drizzle the garlic and tomatoes over the sliced meat.
- Roast Shrimp smothered in Mojo de Ajo, and switch up the cocktail sauce with some of the garlic sauce.
- Add to hummus for extra garlic flavor.
- Spoon into soups especially ones made with winter squash.
- Drizzle over grilled tofu.
- Smear it over toasted bread.
- Marinate goat cheese in the Mojo de Ajo for a special cheese course.
- Mix into ground turkey for a turkey burger or meatloaf.
- Mix into an aioli or mayonnaise for a great sandwich spread or dip.
The possibilities are endless.
Liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo
An amazing condiment made with olive oil, minced garlic, and orange juice. This recipe is from Alex Stupak's book, Taco's. His version includes diced tomatoes with the minced garlic which adds a lovely texture and subtle tomato flavor. Mojo de Ajo is delicious drizzled over grilled meats or vegetables, stirred into grains, or smeared over toasted crusty bread.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375 ml).
- 2 arbol chilies
- 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 cup (250 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 20 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice from 1 orange
- 1 plum tomato, diced
Make the spice blend
Slice the arbol chilies in half lengthwise and shake out the seeds. Discard the seeds.
Heat a small heavy skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. Add the arbol chilies, Mexican oregano, and black peppercorns and toast the spices. Shake the pan back and forth so the spiced do not burn. Toast for about 15 seconds and quickly pour the spices onto a plate to cool.
Pour the spices into a spice grinder and grind them into a fine powder. Set aside. If you do not have a spice grinder, pour the toasted spices onto a cutting board, and mince with a sharp knife to as fine a texture you can get.
Make the Mojo de Ajo
In a two quart sauce pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and minced garlic. Simmer the garlic until is just begins to get a golden brown, about 8 minutes or longer. Be careful that the garlic does not get too brown or burn.
Add the orange juice, diced tomatoes and ground spice powder and simmer for a couple of minutes or until the tomatoes are soft n thoroughly cooked.
Turn off the heat and let the mojo de ajo cool. Pour the whole lot into a glass container with a tight fitting lid.
Store in the refrigerator. The sauce will keep for one month as long as the garlic and tomatoes are thoroughly cooked through. Before using, bring the Mojo de Ajo up to room temperature.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
We went exploring at a new Farmer’s Market last weekend and picked up chimichurri sauce from one of the vendors. Usually, I like to make my own pesto and sauces, but I made an exception with this one. The flavor was fresh and the garlic did not overwhelm the other ingredients. Also, this sauce was my concession to what I really wanted to buy.
The vendor was from an Argentinean restaurant, Gaucho Burger, and they were selling chimichurri sauce and Gaucho Burgers made with sliced roasted pork, lettuce, tomato and slathered in chimichurri sauce. I really wanted one of those burgers. The pork roast had a slight pink color, looked juicy and seasoned throughout with chimichurri. It looked perfectly cooked and delicious. Unfortunately, it was only an hour past my breakfast so I could not justify eating a big burger. I settled on buying their chimichurri sauce instead.
Settled on is not a fair statement because chimichurri sauce can stand on its own merit. It is an Argentinean sauce made with parsley, oregano, garlic, red pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. It is traditionally used as a condiment or marinade for beef. However, I am sure it will taste great on chicken, lamb, pork, fish and grilled vegetables. The sauce’s bright taste comes from fresh parsley and vinegar. Yet, the flavor is nicely balanced with minced garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. That bit of acid brings all the flavors together and tones down the sharp bite of fresh garlic. I love it. You can make it hot, mild, thick or thin. It is easily adaptable for any type of food.
Once home, I knew exactly how I wanted to use the chimichurri. With not enough time for a pork roast, I decided on butterflied flank steak with a layer of chimichurri sauce. After spreading the chimichurri over the meat, I rolled-up the flank steak and secured with kitchen string. The result is a steak that looks like a roast with a spiral of chimichurri sauce throughout the middle. It is tender and full of flavor.
Rolled flank steak tastes great grilled, or you can sear the meat in a skillet on the stove then finish cooking in the oven. Serve the rolled flank steak with chimichurri sauce hot or at room temperature. This makes it a perfect choice for entertaining. It is also easy enough to make during the week. Just butterfly, layer, roll-up, and refrigerate during the day. When you come home, it is ready for cooking.
Tips or Success for Rolled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Butterflying the flank steak is an easy thing to do, but if you do not want to butterfly the flank steak yourself, ask the butcher to do it. Make sure the butcher cuts through the meat beginning on the long side of the flank steak.
Compared to other steak cuts, flank steak is a tougher piece of meat. However, with extra preparation and proper carving, a tender slice of flank steak is possible. The muscle fibers, also known as the grain, are distinct. When carving flank steak, carving the meat thinly on a diagonal and across the grain, creates tender slices of steak.
The same technique applies to rolled flank steak. When rolling up the flank steak, make sure to roll it across the grain. You will see the muscle fibers running the length of the meat. This way, when you carve the rolled flank steak you will cut the meat across the grain at the ends.
For best results, serve flank steak medium-rare. Well done flank steak is tough to chew. An instant-read thermometer is great for determining the level of doneness for a thick piece of meat. The internal temperature for rare beef is 125˚F (52˚C) and medium-rare is around 130˚F (54˚C). I stopped cooking my rolled flank steak close to 125˚F (52˚C), then I let the steak rest and continue to cook with the residual heat for 10 minutes. This is an easy step to do and prevents overcooking the steak.
It is a little more difficult to gauge the temperature in a stuffed piece of meat, you need the thermometer to be in the center. Also, how red the juices are will tell you how far along the cooking process is. The redder the juice the rarer it is. If you pierce the meat and no juices appear it means one of two things: the meat is barely cooked, or it is well done and dry.
More flank steak recipe ideas:
Included with my rolled flank steak recipe is a recipe for chimichurri sauce that I slightly adapted from Simply Recipes website.
Rolled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
- For the Chimichurri Sauce
- 1 cup 250 ml firmly packed Italian parsley leaves
- 5 medium garlic cloves
- 2 TB fresh oregano leaves
- 1/3 cup 75 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TB red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
For the Flank Steak
- 1- 1.5 - 2 lb 750 g - 1 k flank steak
- 3 oz - 4 oz 75 g- 125 g chimichurri sauce
- Kosher Salt about 1/4 teaspoon
- Fresh ground black pepper
Add the parsley, oregano, garlic in a food processor and process until finely pureed. When necessary, scrape down the sides of the bowl to get everything processed evenly. (See Note)
Add the herbs to a small bowl, then whisk together the herbs with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Use right away or store, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Prepare the flank steak
Place the flank steak on a cutting board in front of you with the short end facing you, and the meat fibers running perpendicular to you.
Butterfly the flank steak. Using a long, thin, and sharp knife, like a boning knife, cut the flank steak in half through the thickness of the meat. Beginning at the outer long side, either your right or left. Cut through the middle thickness of the steak, pulling back the top layer as you go. Keep the knife blade level to the countertop so you do not cut up or down, just straight across. Cut the flank steak open until you reach a half an inch from cutting all the way through at the opposite side. Open the steak like a book.
Press on the seam with the heel of your hand to smooth out any uneven dumps.
Sprinkle about a 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt over both sides of the flank steak.
Spread the chimichurri sauce over the side of the flank steak you just cut open.
Staring at the long side, either right or left depending on your dominant hand, roll up the steak with the meat grain running long and perpendicular to you.
Once rolled up, tie up your flank steak roll with kitchen twine. I use 5 ties up the length of the rolled steak. Trim off the long ends of the string.
Rub any escaped chimichurri sauce over the exterior of the steak. Cook right away or let marinate wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator. Marinate for no more than 8 hours.
Cook the steak.
Rolled flank steak is great cooked on the grill, or seared in a grill pan or skillet, then baked in the oven. If you marinated it in the refrigerator, bring the flank steak up to room temperature before you start cooking it. I usually take the meat out about 30 minutes to an hour before I start cooking it.
Prepare the grill for direct and indirect heat areas. Oil the grill before placing the meat down. When the grill is nice and hot place the rolled flank steak directly over the flames on the grill (direct heat). Sear the meat. Turn the meat every couple of minutes and sear all sides of the surface, about 8 to 10 minutes total. Once the meat is seared, move it over to the side of the grill prepared for indirect heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, covered. Check the internal temperature. If the temperature in the middle of the meat is around 120˚F - 125˚F (49˚C- 52˚C), the steak is done cooking.
Remove the flank steak from the grill and let it rest covered with foil for 10 minutes. This resting period should produce medium-rare rolled flank steak, about 130˚F - 135˚F (54˚C- 57˚C).
Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C / Gas Mark 5). Heat and lightly oil a skillet or grill pan large enough to hold your rolled flank steak. When your pan is almost smoking, sear your flank steak, turning it over every 2 minutes searing the steak all over. When the flank steak is seared, place the pan with the flank steak in the oven and cook. After 10 minutes, check the internal temperature. Stop cooking when the internal temperature in the middle of the rolled steak reaches between 120˚F - 125˚F (49˚C- 52˚C). Place the rolled flank steak on a cutting board and let it rest covered in foil for 10 minutes. Medium-rare meat has an internal temperature of, 130˚F - 135˚F (54˚C- 57˚C).
Slice and Serve
Cut off the ties and slice the rolled flank in 1/2- inch slices across the grain. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Leftovers make great sandwiches with a chimichurri mayo, lettuce, tomato, and your favorite bread or roll.
If you do not own a food processor, you can make the sauce by finely mincing the herbs with a knife.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.