Piment d’Espelette (the Espelette pepper) is a deep red coloured French sweet-hot pepper, protected by a French AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée), produced in just ten small villages in France (traditionally the northern territory of the Basque people).
The peppers hold a sweet, smoky medium heat, and are harvested in late Summer. In September, festoons of the peppers are hung from balconies, gutters and gates for a month to dry. Every year, in the last weekend of October around 20,000 tourists head to the town of Espelette for a festival – The Celebration of Peppers – in the name of the Espelette ingredient.
The peppers are dried carefully and then pulverized into a fine powder, which is one of the most popular spices in Parisian kitchens. For ideas of how to use the spice (which can be purchased from Sous Chef) see some of our suggestions below.
- We made this recipe of Chicken basquaise with piperade from the Perfect Pantry website and it was absolutely delicious. The Espelette adds a lovely red hue to this dish, which isn’t too hot but has a lovely sweet heat.
- With pasta! In this decadent dish of handmade ravioli of langoustine with Espelette pepper and shaved fennel served with a of langoustine bisque, the pepper is used in its whole form, although I think the spice could be used as a substitute. Similarly, this simple dish of French Spaghetti with anchovies and Espelette also uses the spice to compliment a seafood and pasta combination.
- We add Espelette pepper our Portuguese Cataplana recipe (which remains the most popular post on our website). The dish of pork and clams is warmed nicely by the Espelette.
- In this recipe Espelette is combined with honey, white wine, lime juice and a few other ingredients and drizzled over oysters for a delicious starter that can be prepared in minutes.
- Adding Espelette to paella really compliments the smoky flavour of the chorizo nicely.
- Espelette mayonnaise: This simple recipe of Espelette mayonnaise is a great accompaniment to fish and is lovely on sandwiches and fries too!
- Using only four ingredients this appetizer of ham wrapped skewers with Espelette pepper makes use of the spice in an unusual but simple way.