Friday, May 21, 2010

Romesco, I Love You

It doesn't look like much, does it? It is, however, absolutely obsession-worthy.

It's Romesco sauce, and I can't stop eating it; I must have eaten two pounds of it in the last month. That's why I haven't been blogging--I've been eating nothing but Romesco in all its various incarnations. Okay, not really, but almost.

I've mentioned this condiment/sauce in a previous post, but I'm back to say that Romesco is fantastic on crackers, bread, fish, pork, pretty much anything grilled, roasted meats, eggs, zucchini, fennel, tortilla chips, and it pairs well with both soft and hard cheeses. Not to mention beer, champagne, and light white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or the newly trendy Gruner Veltliner.

I'm telling you, I'm obsessed.

You need to make this, and you need to make it now. People on Epicurious will make you think that it's a big deal. It's not. And the best part is that you can divide the batch into little portions, freeze them in little baggies, and defrost them as needed, the way you would with pesto.

Ignore those recipes that call for chicken stock or jarred roasted red peppers--this recipe adapted from Suzanne Goin is the real deal, and your efforts will be well rewarded.


2 tablespoons raw almonds
2 tablespoons hazelnuts
5 Guajillo chiles, or a mix of Guajillo and New Mexico chiles (I think that Ancho are more traditional, but I prefer the less-smoky flavor of the other two chiles)
2 tomatoes, cored
One slice of bread
1 clove of garlic, chopped
About half a cup of good-quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
One lemon, for juicing
Sherry vinegar, to taste
Sea or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Spread the nuts on the flat pan of a toaster oven (or on a baking sheet in the oven) and toast at 375 degrees until golden brown, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, stem and seed the chiles, and soak them in warm water for about 15 minutes. Remove from the water and dry with paper towels.

When the nuts are toasted, place the tomatoes on the sheet and turn the heat up to 425. Roast until flesh is tender and the raw edges are caramelized. Timing will vary, but this will likely take about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toast the bread until it is golden on both sides.

Tear up the bread and place it in the food processor. Add the nuts, garlic, tomatoes, chiles, and about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and puree until you have a coarse, semi-homogeneous mixture. With the machine running, add the olive oil until you have a smooth paste.

Season to taste with parsley, lemon juice, vinegar (I like to use about 3-4 tablespoons, but some people might prefer less), salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

This will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks, or can be frozen for a few months. When frozen, it defrosts very quickly and is therefore very convenient.

A side note--this is one of those recipes where more garlic is not better. Don't do what I did and figure that because you love garlic, you should add more. Don't.

(At a recent extended-family party, this cake was dropped on the ground. We ate it anyway.)

(The Lone Cypress, shot on our recent trip to California. More on that later. Maybe.)

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