This article and recipes come to you courtesy of Canton Rep:
Extreme surroundings yield extreme cuisine
Imagine living in rugged mountain territory isolated from the 21st Century. Your land spreads over two vastly different nations.
As with many things Basque, cooking reflects their culture. These are tough sheepherders and fishermen along the Pyrenees separating France and Spain. Their isolation has allowed their culture to grow. They are accustomed to doing things their own way and protect this freedom from the outside.
The result is a cuisine drawing from the countries it touches. Then the Basque Way is applied — supercharging with strong ingredients, getting the absolute most flavor out of everything. This is not subtle stuff. Your own most flavorful American recipe would be considered way bland here.
They use strong olive oil in almost everything, and garlic to the point of tears.
Stews and soups simmer for hours. A Basque cook shakes the pan violently where we would stir. He (men often do the cooking) produces dishes ahead, knowing that flavors increase with advance preparation.
Spanish tapas, the appetizers so popular in bars worldwide, started with the Basques. Now we know why they are flavor-packed. Chorizo is another Basque contribution, a dried or semi-cured sausage of potent power from heavy and heady use of pepper and hot paprika.
Basques have endured a number of scatterings as their people seek better lives in new countries. A million of them live in Chile. There are major concentrations in Mexico. The few who have made it to the United States seek territory similar to their home country, many in Idaho. Boise has a sizable Basque population, and the restaurants to prove it.
Chorizo in wine is simple but hearty enough to be consumed only with homemade bread. Basque pot roast features the flavors of bacon, pork and garlic all melded together in a powerful mix. This is classic Basque technique.CHORIZO IN WINE
1 pound chorizo, the softer semi-cured instead of the dried hard-cured
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 baby leaf
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Slice the chorizo into inch-long rounds. Brown in oil and drain off the fat. Add wine and boil. Add bay leaf and pepper flakes, reduce to low, cover and simmer 45 minutes.
Serves four with a loaf of homemade bread and butter.BASQUE PORK ROAST
4 slices bacon, thick cut and peppered, diced
3 pounds boneless pork roast, fat included
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced
1 large green pepper, seeded and sliced
1 small jar pimento
1/4 cup white wine
Wash and dry roast. Pierce meat with a knife in several places and insert slices of garlic. Rub with salt and pepper.
Place bacon in a heavy pot and fry until crisp. Remove bacon and add roast. Brown on all sides. Add onion, green pepper and pimento. Add wine and cover, baking slowly at 325 degrees for three hours. Drippings may be converted to gravy by heating and whisking in a tablespoon of cornstarch.
Serves 6 to 8.
Note: Lamb or venison may be substituted for pork.
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