I know little about Basque cuisine or culture. However, if you say piperade, my ears perk up because I always love the flavourful mix of sweet peppers and onions. That’s my favourite mix in for omelettes, only second to liver and mushrooms (hunter style)! Making Chicken Basquaise for French Fridays with Dorie was a joy as soon as I noticed the big batch of piperade for braising chicken thighs.
I loosely followed the recipe based on ingredient availability and scaled down to two pieces of chicken thighs. I built my piperade with four sweet shepherd peppers, a big Vidalia onion, one clove of garlic, one red finger chilli, and a few spoonful of canned diced tomatoes. The seasoning of thyme, bay leaf, piment d'espelette, and tomato paste imparted just the right amount of complexity. However, I am most pleased with my substitution of dry vermouth over white wine to deglaze the pan.
Normally I would dream up a unique take on the recipe. This week, I decided to observe. There is comfort in following trusted footsteps especially for an unfamiliar cuisine. I even served the dish as per Greenspan’s recommendation over herb-flecked rice.
One thing that strike me as odd is the long cooking time for the piperade. I am used to lightly cooked vegetable that retain their crunch. What surprised me is that the slow simmering drew out the sweetness from the peppers to create a pool of highly flavourful jus. The rice soaked up every drop to create a satisfying meal on a chilly evening. The ease of this recipe makes it suitable for weekend dinner but its handsome good look makes it appropriate for dinner party as well.