Cabillaud et Pipérade
Vibrant and syrupy roasted sweet peppers is one of my favorite sandwich toppings. Pair that with a simple pesto or a garlicky white bean purée and I’m set. So you can imagine how excited I was to see a roasted sweet pepper stew as the base for the oil-poached cod dish. Additionally, roasting bell peppers is one procedure I am actually confident in doing. *beam*
In general, preparing roasted sweet peppers is fairly simple and just gets a bit messy at most. So what could POSSIBLY go wrong when I follow Keller’s Piperade recipe? Well…
Since the Soffritto took over four hours to cook, I prepared the Piperade in the mean time. This recipe is also one of Keller’s “building blocks“. Keller devotes a section of his book to “building blocks”, which are essential elements in his kitchen and foundations to his cooking . They are the basics prepared by classical technique and utilized to enrich and bring depth to various dishes. Other examples are garlic confit, tomato confit, and preserved lemon.
red and yellow bell peppers
extra virgin olive oil
Espelette pepper (or red pepper flakes, which is what I used)
freshly ground black pepper
red wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 450°F.
I lined a baking sheet with aluminum foil and prepared the bell peppers. I cut the peppers in half and removed the cores, seeds, and ribs. Then, I toss them in some olive oil and salt and placed them cut side down onto the baking sheet. Keller suggests separating the red and yellow peppers onto two baking sheets, putting them in the oven at once, and removing them as they finish cooking at their respective cooking times. But just to be safe, I put the peppers into the oven one baking sheet at a time.
I roasted them until they are brown and blistered and when my arms became too tired from fanning my smoke detector with a magazine while standing on a wobbly stool. They by no means burned or smoked. My smoke detector is just ridiculously sensitive and temperamental and I don’t want to talk about it. The yellow ones took around 15 minutes to cook and the red took 5 minutes longer.
You know the drill. The peppers go into a bowl and are covered with plastic wrap to steam and loosen up the skins. They retain heat very well and I was too impatient to wait until they were completely cooled before I peeled them. Ouch! but it’s a good pain. Peel, then cut into 1/4 inch wide and 2 inches long strips. Set aside in a bowl and retain the juices.
The only piquillo peppers I could find were canned ones. Keller did not specify whether he required jarred, canned, or dried ones so I bought what I could find. I removed the seeds and cut them into strips.
Then, I scooped some precious Soffritto into a saucepan and added the piquillo peppers, red pepper flakes, freshly cracked black pepper, and bell peppers along with their juices. That’s a lot of peppers. (In the photo, the Soffritto is on top for illustrative purposes). I tasted and seasoned the mixture with salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar while it simmered for about three minutes.
Keller explains that Piperade is a very versatile ingredient and suggests simply serving it on a baguette. I ripped off a piece of bread and spread the warm Piperade on to taste it. Remember when I asked what could possibly go wrong? well… nothing! It came out perfectly. The deep, almost smoky flavor of the Soffritto is enhanced by the spiciness of the piquillo and red pepper flakes. There is definitely a kick to this but it is mellowed out and complimented by the intense sweetness of the peppers. Yum. He also suggests serving this on eggs and I imagine it would be scrumptious on a goat’s cheese frittata.
I stored the Piperade in an air-tight container in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld overnight as suggested. In the next post, I will complete the dish by poaching cod filets in thyme and garlic infused oil and finishing the Piperade into a stew. I’m excited!