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Hi everybody!

During a trip in Spain, I had the delicious "Pimientos del Piquillo rellenos de bacalao". Once I came back home, I looked for the recipe and found it on a book I have, but there was an issue...they didn't explain WHAT are pimientos del piquillo, I think because it was a Spanish book. I tried to reproduce the recipe, however, with "normal" red bell peppers, the smallest I could find. I filled them with a bacalao brandade according to the directions and baked them until tender. They were good, but obviously not just what I had in Spain.

So, I wonder what are, exactly, pimientos del piquillo. Are they just a special type of pepper (botanically speaking) or are they also cooked and/or preserved in some special way? Is it possible to replace them with other peppers if you cannot find them?

Also a good tested recipe for pimientos rellenos de bacalao would be appreciated.

TIA!

Pongi

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AFAIK, Pimientos del piquillo come from a particular region in Spain, Navarra, and they've their own "Denominación de Origen" (D.O. Pimientos del Piquillo de Lodosa). Botanically speaking, they are Capsicum annuum L.

Regarding to substituting them in some recipes, although it would never be the same, if you take the extra work of roasting some good red peppers by yourself it probably will give a close enough result.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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I wonder if these are the same peppers you get in the French Basque region, on the other side of the Pyrenees from Navarra, as well. The dried piments d'Epelette are rather spicy although no more so than medium hot paprika.

You can get roasted and peeled piquillos imported from Spain in cans and jars. It's my understanding that some excellent restaurant kitchens in the US have been using these although I don't know if the same brands are available to consumers and chefs alike.

The best version I have had was in France, in Ainnoa, at a one star restaurant. The preparation and saucing did not involve any cheese, which in general hasn't seemed to really help support the bacalao stuffing to my taste. We've improvised recipes using whatever red peppers we could find, usually bell, but some tiny red peppers found at the NYC Greenmarket worked very well. We baked the latter stuffed rather than trying to roast and peel them first. The stuffing has been a variation of brandade.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Thanks Pedro and Bux!

also "my" pimientos with bacalao (which I had, if I remember well, at the restaurant of Parador Hotel in Tui, Galicia) were tasty but light, not overwhelmed with an excess of sauces and flavors. The brandade stuffing tasted about like the one of my recipe, which calls only for bacalao, cream, pine nuts, parsley, S&P.

It's unlikely that I can find those canned pimientos, but I'll give it a try...

Pongi

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Galicia is an interesting part of Spain that doesn't get that many non Spanish tourists--with the exception of Santiago de Compostela, which of course, has hosted foreign pilgrims for hundreds of years. The stuffed piquillos I had in Ainhoa were also served in a light sauce that may have been a reduced poultry stock, or maybe a seafood stock, but a light one. The brandades I've made have all be a combination of salt cod, potato, garlic, cream or milk and olive oil. Do you remember the origin of the one with pine nuts? Do you recall if it was a traditional recipe or a modern one?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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The canned and bottled piquillos are fairly easy to find in specialty food stores, but frankly I don't think they are worth buying. A canned vegetable is stll a canned vegetable You will still be better off roasting some fresh bell peppers - they are at their best now in early September.

Ruth Friedman

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I must beg to differ with Ruth:

In general, I'd never recommend a canned product over a fresh one, but in this instance I will. This has to do with both the fact that the Pimientos del Piquillo de Lodosa are quite differnet in flavour and texture than your regular bell pepper, and also the fact that they are roasted/charred over wooden coals/fires from old vines, after that peeled by hand and canned without any preservatives or additives sucha as oil, citric acid, etc.

IMHO the best brands are: Conservas de Lodosa (THE best) as well as Conservas Rosara. One brand that is slightly cheaper, but also with some torn peppers are the ones from Conservas Dantza.

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Viking, I'm glad to read your comments because as I said, respected restaurants in NYC have been using canned or jarred piquillos pepper in some dishes. I have a small (150 gram) tin of piquillos I purchased in Spain last spring and which I have not yet opened. I am not surprised to learn it's not one of the better brands. It was the most expensive brand on the shelf, but the shelf was in a rather ordinary supermarket in Sevilla. I will look for Conservas de Lodosa when we are in Donastia and the area next month. Our travels south of Donastia should probably take us close to Lodosa in fact.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I had a marvellous version of this dish at the El Hornu restaurant in Pancar near LLanes in Asturias this Summer. I don't know what type of Pimiento was used but it seemed to me that the Bacalao was silkened up by the inclusion of creamed, pureed potato, much like a French Brandade.

The Pimientos were also surrounded by an intense Pimiento reduction, which could almost have been sun dried. Don't recall pine nuts though.

This restaurant has a Michelin "Bib Gourmande" BTW, and is well worth seeking out if you're in the area for excellent examples of hearty regional cooking.

Edited by Tonyfinch (log)
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Indeed 99% of Spain's cooks (amateurs or pros) use canned or jarred piquillos. I've seen a web site where one of the most reliable brands, El Navarrico, is sold in the US.

Bux, there's no relationship (except that they're both, botanically, Capsicum annum - like habanero and ají amarillo and páprika and all others!) between Espelette and Lodosa peppers. The piquillos from Lodosa are, a) never hot; b) never dried, just roasted and eaten either alone or in a salad or stuffed.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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I know that the Spanish love canned vegetables (especially canned white asparagus which I could never eat). I have never knowingly tried the Lodosa piquillos and shall look for them. However, whenever I think of using a canned vegetable because the fresh version is unavailable, I remember Susanna Foo's advice to use fresh artichoke hearts, which have a flavor and texture similar to bamboo shoots, in place of canned bamboo shoots.

Ruth Friedman

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Except when you're eating one-day-old fresh asparagus, the canned, big white asparagus from La Rioja or Navarra is very hard to improve on anywhere in the world. Why is it that you "could never eat" them? Because canned food is a health hazard for you or because of sheer prejudice against canned foods? In Spain we couldn't live without canned foods. As already explained by other posters, the best tapas bars always offer some great (and expensive!) stuff straight out of tins, small or huge...

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Except when you're eating one-day-old fresh asparagus, the canned, big white asparagus from La Rioja or Navarra is very hard to improve on anywhere in the world.

The idea that the best examples of canned vegetables compare favourably with even good examples of fresh vegetables is laughable. I haven't had this paricular canned asparagus from but if it compares favourably with the best fresh white asparagus from France, Italy and Germany, I'll be a monkey's uncle. The canned asparagus I have had in Spain does have flavour, but is inevitably slimy and disintigrated in texture due to the processing and the vaccuum packing.

I am not opposed to all canned foods. But the over reliance on canned vegetables in Spain is a peculiar feature of the cuisine and cannot be dressed up as a positive compared to the best of fresh vegetable dishes, whether in Spain or elsewhere.

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The idea that the best examples of canned vegetables compare favourably with even good examples of fresh vegetables is laughable.

Thank you, Tony. I wouldn't expect any less from you and your profound knowledge of Spain.

'Fresh' white asparagus that's three or four days old becomes wooden. That's the 'fresh' asparagus most people eat. And then of course the season is a very short one.

Do buy yourself a tin of ultra-large Navarra white asparagus (of the size that's legally and quite precisely known as 'cojonudos') next time you're in Spain, open it without preconceived notions , and then report on it, please. Don't blast things you haven't tasted yet. That would be my humble piece of advice.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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The idea that the best examples of canned vegetables compare favourably with even good examples of fresh vegetables is laughable.

Thank you, Tony. I wouldn't expect any less from you and your profound knowledge of Spain.

'Fresh' white asparagus that's three or four days old becomes wooden. That's the 'fresh' asparagus most people eat. And then of course the season is a very short one.

Do buy yourself a tin of ultra-large Navarra white asparagus (of the size that's legally and quite precisely known as 'cojonudos') next time you're in Spain, open it without preconceived notions , and then report on it, please. Don't blast things you haven't tasted yet. That would be my humble piece of advice.

I agree. One of the great Iberian gastronomic experiences must be going to a restaurant and paying someone to open a tin of leeks, asparagus or whatever, and put them on a plate for you, that takes skill and imagination, and thus it's no surprise that Spain is being heralded as the new France. Wonderfully decadent!

Long live the clear superiority of tinned vegetables!

Edited by Lord Michael Lewis (log)
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But the over reliance on canned vegetables in Spain is a peculiar feature of the cuisine and cannot be dressed up as a positive compared to the best of fresh vegetable dishes, whether in Spain or elsewhere.

Absolutely incorrect perception. Asparagus (white, not green) is the only canned vegetable a good restaurant (meaning: not a canteen) in Spain will ever use, and many state quite clearly on their menu: "Canned". When I mention Spain's love for some canned foods I'm naturally referring to L'Escala and Santoña anchovies, Galician mussels and cockles, Basque sardines or tuna belly that are proudly displayed by the very best tapas bars in the country which (I think) invented tapas and made them into an art form. Ah! I forgot. And the famed Almagro pickled eggplant (that's aubergine in your country).

Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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The idea that the best examples of canned vegetables compare favourably with even good examples of fresh vegetables is laughable.

Thank you, Tony. I wouldn't expect any less from you and your profound knowledge of Spain.

'Fresh' white asparagus that's three or four days old becomes wooden. That's the 'fresh' asparagus most people eat. And then of course the season is a very short one.

Do buy yourself a tin of ultra-large Navarra white asparagus (of the size that's legally and quite precisely known as 'cojonudos') next time you're in Spain, open it without preconceived notions , and then report on it, please. Don't blast things you haven't tasted yet. That would be my humble piece of advice.

Rude bugger aren't you? :biggrin:

When you say tinned/canned, is this literally so, or does it mean bottled in glass? I ask because I would would have thought that the produce would be tainted from contact with the metal. Or are the cans lined with something maybe?

I have never had white aparagas in Spain, only the wild green type.

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Personally, I find high-quality canned (jarred, actually) piquillos just as good as fresh. Though a prejudice against preserved foods is understandable in the US (and in other countries), I think it is wrongheaded in this case.

It would be absurd, for example, to claim that fresh cod is superior to bacalao, or fresh duck to confit.

Ok, I'm joking -- apples and oranges. And, admittedly, my examples are not vegetable. (And, I cannot deal with those fat white asparagus in any form.) But the point is that preserving can create something new, and not just poorly imitate the "real thing". In the case of the piquillos, the essential flavor may actually be enhanced by the preservation, and the texture is definitely improved, for the purpose of stuffing them. Certainly they are a poor simulacrum of fresh peppers, but that is not the point.

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They can be tinned (in cans with a special lining: at the prices they charge, they can afford it!) or put in glass jars, which I personally don't like that much because the sunlight doesn't help the delicate white asparagus, and for some reason they are not using dark glass (AFAIK) as vrigin olive oil producers now do.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Certainly they are a poor simulacrum of fresh peppers, but that is not the point.

Why are they? Let's don't forget that piquillos, before being canned, are 1) roasted; 2) peeled; 3) preserved in olive oil. So it's a very specific food.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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I have never seen pimientos del piquillo in any form other than preserved. Are they sold fresh in Navarra?

My "local" pepper is the pimiento de padrón. So local indeed that I can now buy them grown just outside my town in Portugal. But they don't taste the same as the Padrón ones, neither do the "non pican" ones from the north of Coruña province. Both are larger and with a less concentrated taste.

abraço

Chloe

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They are very seldom found fresh, in season (which is a very short one). Re pimientos de Padrón: a good-humored Madrid chef always refers, in his witty menu, as his 'Padrón peppers from Murcia', which is like 'Chesapeake Bay crab from San Francisco'... Actually, Padrón-type small peppers are planted and sold all over Spain; some better, some worse, some hotter, some mild...

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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The flavor of canned or jarred piquillo peppers from Navarre (marked DOC on the label), slowly roasted over wood, is so extraordinary that even Alain Ducasse recommends them for stuffing in his book, Mediterranees, cuisine de l'essential.

My personal favorite way to cook these luscious peppers is in a cazuela (Spanish shallow clay pot). I simply cook them slowly

in a few teaspoons olive oil until they release their juices,

making an unctuous garnish for roast beef.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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