Makes 3 cups
Anyone who has traveled in the Basque country has sampled this lovely sauce, since it is probably the most famous of all our sauces. But when I sat down to write the book, I debated including this recipe, despite its importance to Basque cuisine, because choricero, the sweet, dried red peppers necessary for it, are not imported to the United States. I tried making the sauce with other mild, sweet dried red peppers, which are easily available all over the United States, but although flavorful, these do not produce a sauce that tastes authentic to me. Still, I finally decided that it is better to tell you how to make a good approximation of the sauce than to deprive you of the recipe altogether.
8 dried red choricero peppers, or 6 dried
red California (Anaheim) or ancho peppers (see Note)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 tablespoons serrano ham or
prosciutto, chopped (optional)
About 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1. Put the peppers into a bowl, and soak them in cold water for at least 8 hours. Transfer the peppers and soaking liquid to a saucepan, and heat them over medium heat until they are simmering, but not boiling. Drain the peppers, reserving 1 cup of the liquid. Slit the peppers open, and scrape out the seeds. Discard the seeds.
2. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté them for about 5 minutes, until they are softened. Add the peppers and ham, if you're using it, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the peppers begin to soften. Reduce the heat to low, add the reserved cooking liquid, and season to taste with salt. Cook, stirring, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the peppers are very soft and the sauce is slightly reduced.
3. Add the tomato sauce (you may want to add a little more or a little less than 1/2 cup, according to your taste), and cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is hot. Pass it through a food mill, and serve it immediately, or store it in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Because California and ancho peppers tend to be a little larger than choriceros, I use fewer of them.
The Basque Table
Passionate Home Cooking from one
of Europe's Great Regional Cuisines
By Teresa Barrenechea with Mary Goodbody
Harvard Common Press
Hardback, Price: $22.95
Recipe Reprinted by permission.
This page created March 1999
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