Tag Archives: Basque

Basque Piperade and a disoriented white hen

When is an a tomato not a tomato? Answer: when it’s an egg…

The white hen has taken to laying her eggs amongst our tomato plants. I only realised the other day when I spotted several egg-coloured tomatoes.  As hens tend to lay where there are, or have been, other eggs, I wondered whether she thought that the pepper tomatoes were green eggs. Which begs the question: are hens colour blind or just a few French fries short of a Happy Meal? Answers on a postcard please!

Of course the other explantion is that she’s a Basque hen gagging for some Piperade, no doubt one of the most renown Basque dishes.

Ingredients (serves four)

6 medium tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

100g sliced Bayonne ham

3 cloves of garlic

2 onions

Chopped parsley, thyme, bay leaf

2 red bell peppers cut into strips

2 green bell peppers

2 teaspoons Espelette pepper (if you don’t have this, Paprika, chilli powder or Cayenne will do)

4 eggs

Blanche and skin the tomatoes. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a medium frying pan and cook the ham until golden brown (about 7 minutes). Set aside. Cook the garlic and onion in two tablespoons of olive oil until golden brown. Add the herbs and peppers, Espelette pepper and seasalt to taste. Cover and leave to cook until the peppers soften (about 10 minutes). Stir in the tomatoes and browned ham and cook until the mixtures melds and juices slightly thicken. Beat the eggs and add over the heat to the tomato/pepper mixture, stirring until cooked. Serve immediately!

Basque Chicken

Our multi-talented Spanish carpenter, who my husband disparagingly refers to as the ‘poet’ (as in Real Men Don’t Do Poetry), gave us several jars of his home-made spicy tomato sauce, which my son then referred to as ‘ketchup in a jar’. Between them, husband and son make quite sure that neither carpenter nor tomato sauce get too up themselves.

Poulet Basquaise should really be made with Espelette pepper, which is a cross between paprika and chilli pepper, and is a speciality of the village of Espelette in the Basque country.

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 chicken thighs and 4 legs

1 tin of peeled tomatoes (or homemade if possible)

1 tin of white beans

4 cloves of garlic

1 onion

5 mushrooms, sliced

1 bell pepper

1 cup of black olives

olive oil

sprig of rosemary

1 glass of white wine

seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, paprika, chilli powder or if possible Espelette pepper)

Chop the onions, garlic and mushrooms and add to the olive oil in an oven-proof casserole dish. Cook until golden and then add the chicken pieces, which should also be cooked until golden-brown on both sides. Add the wine, herbs and seasoning and cook for about 2 minutes so that the chicken can absorb the wine. Add the tomatoes and heat until simmering. Lastly add the beans and olives and cook in a medium oven (150°C) until the tomatoes begin to caramalise (just under two hours).

Poulet Basquaise is usually served with sauté potatoes or rice, although I often serve it with polenta and a crisp green salad.