July 12, 2008

Photo du Jour - Piment d'Espelette

Le Piment d'Espelette

This deep red, flavor-packed pepper from the Basque region of southwest France is so treasured it was given AOC status in 1999. It is grown in a very small area surrounding 10 villages that celebrate with a Piment d'Espelette Festival every October.

The pepper has a sultry, smoky flavor and mild heat so it is often used in place of black pepper in Basque dishes such as Poulet Basquaise.

  • 5 pounds chicken pieces, either whole legs or 1 chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small slice Bayonne ham (optional)
  • 3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 red peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, seeds removed and thinly sliced
  • 10 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 bouquet garni (2 springs of parsley, thyme & bay leaves tied together in green leek leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette

  1. In a large saucepan that will fit all of the chicken comfortably, heat 1/8 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Brown the chicken in the olive oil, about 5 minutes per side. You may have to do this in batches. Remove the chicken from the pan, set aside and drain the fat from the pan.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and bring the heat back up to medium-high.
  4. Add onions, bell peppers and garlic, sautée for about 5 minutes. Add the Bayonne ham, the tomatoes, the bouquet garni, the white wine, half of the salt and the Piment d' Espelette, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Let cook for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and the liquid has reduced.
  5. Add the chicken, stir everything together, cover and cook until the chicken breasts are done, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the breast pieces and set aside.
  6. Continue cooking the rest of the chicken until done, about 20 minutes. Return the chicken breasts to the pot and warm up, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Discard bouquet garni, taste for salt and Piment d'Espelette and serve.

Serves 6-8

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