Piperade

Oeufs Basquaises Jan 2012 2

Piperade is the quintessential Basque sauce and condiment, an indispensable basic of Basque cooking.  It is essentially a slow simmered compote of sweet peppers, tomato and onions, flavored with thyme and Piment d’Espelette.  Piperade can be used in many dishes, including with eggs (the photo shows a dish of eggs baked with prawns and piperade), as a sauce for fish and meats and a number of other dishes.

In the past, piperade was simmered very slowly in a earthenware pot placed in the corner of the hearth.  Although this recipe is cooked on the stove top, it is important to simmer the piperade gently for best results.

Ingredients

6# ripe tomatoes
3# piments longs des Landes (outside the south of France substitute green bell peppers)
1.5# panchetta (unsmoked)
6 onions
12 cloves garlic
6 sprigs thyme
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cup olive oil
1 T Piment d'Espelette (ground mild Basque chili)

Preparation

  1. Cut the pancetta in small dice. Peel, seed and dice the tomatoes in small dice, saving any juice. Peel the onions and garlic; dice the onions finely; remove the germ from the garlic then dice finely. Remove the seeds, core and pith from the peppers and dice finely. Pick the thyme.
  2. In a heavy pan, sweat the pancetta very slowly in a bit of olive oil. Add the peppers and continue to cook slowly until softened. Add the onions and garlic and sweat slowly as well.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Also add any juice from the tomatoes. Add salt, pepper and Piment d’Espelette. Add the thyme leaves and bay. When a full boil is reached, lower the heat to a very gentle simmer and let simmer covered for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the cover and taste. If the tomatoes are too acid, add a pinch or two of sugar. Let simmer very gently 20-30 minutes more, uncovered, to concentrate the flavors. Raise the heat a bit the last 5 minutes if necessary to reach a thick, sauce-like consistency. Cool and store in a covered container.
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3 Responses to Piperade

  1. Jay says:

    This sounds delicious! I am hopeful that one day we can see the recipe for Brandade de morue nîmoise. I am in NY and had that a couple of years ago when visiting your restaurant and would love to try to make that dish! That item is on my list of Last Supper Meals…

    • Jim says:

      I will try to get the recipe for Brandade in the recipe section as soon as time allows. In the meantime, you might try Elisabeth David’s “Frence Provincial Cooking”. My recipe is similar to hers.

  2. Fawn Drohman says:

    Jim,

    Is this the dish David and I had when visiting your restaurant back when? If this is, I did love this and had never had anything like it. Looks complicated for someone like me. How is your Roast chicken? Looks delicious to me, will try that next time.

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