"I lived in Spain for eight years; five of those, I owned a restaurant in Madrid. There was an Asturian bar right around the corner from my restaurant that had these piquillo peppers stuffed with brandade and fried. Every time I went to that bar, I would order them. I could not get enough of them. I want to be a good ambassador of Spanish food. I only make what I can replicate authentically; if I can't do it right, I just won't do it."
Chef, Owner & Sommelier, Taberna de Haro
1 cup thin, small pieces salt cod (sold in bags at fish stores and at many supermarkets)
1 large potato, peeled and quartered
1 whole garlic clove, peeled
3/4 cup highest quality Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
12 piquillo peppers, patted dry (available in specialty stores and online)
1 cup cooking olive oil (inexpensive Spanish extra-virgin olive oil)
3/4 cup white flour, on a rimmed plate
1 egg, beaten, in a bowl
1. Soak the salt cod in a big bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes. Rinse in a colander and place in a medium saucepan along with the potato and garlic. Add water to cover by 1 inch, cover pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes, until potatoes are very tender. Ladle out about 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid and set aside. Strain out the solids and discard the remaining liquid. Place the cod mixture in the bowl of a food processor. Add 1/2 cup cooking liquid and 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, and pulse. You want the consistency of very soft mashed potatoes, as when too much milk gets tipped in by accident. Add more liquid and oil as needed, working quickly; if you overprocess the mixture, the starch in the potatoes will turn it gummy. Place the cod mixture, or brandade, in a shallow bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.
2. Stuff each pepper with about 1 tablespoon brandade, taking care not to rip the peppers. In a medium frying pan, add the cooking oil to come about 1/3 inch up the side, and heat over medium. Roll each pepper in the flour, then dip in the egg. Slip the peppers into the hot oil, keeping the flame on medium. When the bottoms are dark-golden, flip the peppers and cook until the other side is dark-golden. Serve hot or warm. Serves 4.
NICOLAS ULACIA E HIJOS Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2017
"Pairing these peppers with the ever-so-slightly effervescent Ulacia Txakolina Rosé is wonderful. The tiny bubbles lighten the fry—and the mood—and the dazzling minerals of this Basque seaside wine are the perfect counterpoint to the lush creaminess of the brandada. Both salt cod and piquillo peppers are popular in Basque cuisine, so the marriage is quite apt. Low in alcohol and high in thrill factor, Txakolina is often my choice when I know there is a lot on my plate, literally and figuratively."
Wine Spectator Alternates
ERREKALDE Hondarrabi Zuri Getariako Txakolina Rosé Hiruzta 2017 (88, $18)
ETXANIZ TXAKOLINA Getariako Txakolina Rosado Txomin Etxaniz 2017 (87, $20)