When creating her decadent dishes, Chef Cynthia Verna (affectionately known as “Chef Thia”) isn’t afraid to scour the globe for unique flavors. Her food infuses Caribbean, African, Latin, Asian, French and Mediterranean styles together for a truly international plate.
But she never wanders far from lessons learned in her Haitian grandmother’s kitchen: to always champion fresh food and fresh ingredients — and a little spice, of course. “In the Caribbean, we cook with lots of herbs and spices,” says Chef Thia about her process. “Every meal is delightful and mouth-watering because we don’t hold anything back.”
These principles have served her well throughout her career, from running her own restaurant Atelier Les Bamboos in Haiti at 17, to graduating cum laude from Le Cordon Bleu in Miami. She went on to complete successful stints at Ritz Carlton franchises, and now runs her own catering company, Chef Thia’s Cuisine. She also became co-host of “Taste The Islands,” the first ever nationally-syndicated Caribbean cooking show in America.
Along the way, she never forgets to add a little spice to everything she does, like this Argentinian-inspired steak recipe. She seasons the meat with her signature “special spice,” injecting a vibrant blend of fresh flavors.
PRO TIP: Want to make an easy compound butter? Save your leftover chimichurri sauce and blend it with some soften butter in a food processor. Then roll the mixture in plastic wrap and freeze until you’re ready to use it.
Chef Thia’s Churrasco Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
For the sauce
- 1/2 cup curly parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup white onion
- 1/3 cup red onion
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
For the steak
- 1 16-ounce skirt (churrasco) steak
- 1/2 cup sour orange juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 tbsp Chef Thia’s Spice
For Chef Thia’s Special Spice
- 1 cup Canola Oil
- 1 ½ cups Garlic Cloves
- 6 Scallions, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch curly Parsley
- 10 sprigs fresh Thyme
- ½ Green Bell Pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp. whole Cloves
- 3 Chicken Bullion Cubes
- 2 medium Yellow Onions, cubed
- ½ bunch flat Parsley
For Chef Thia’s Special Spice:
- Add the canola oil, garlic, scallions, parsley and thyme to a food processor, and pulse a few times to finely chop.
- Add the bell peppers, cloves, bullion cubes, and onion and blend until smooth. Store unused portions in an airtight container in refrigerator.
For the sauce:
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine red wine vinegar, red and white onion, kosher salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- Add parsley and cilantro, and olive oil. Stir until oil and vinegar are combined and set aside to drizzle over Churrasco Steak.
For the steak
- Rinse steak in sour orange and salt before marinating your steak.
- In a large bowl, marinate steak with orange juice and water. Allow steak to marinate for 10-20 minutes then, sprinkle with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat. When grill is hot, place churrasco steak fat-side down and grill for 3-4 minutes.
- Flip skirt steak and grill for an additional 3 minutes for medium, or for 3-5 minutes for well done.
- When steak is done, remove from grill and spread Chef Thia’s spice on top. Allow to rest for 8-10 minutes before slicing and serving with Chef Thia’s Chimichurri Sauce.