Friday, June 11, 2010

Romesco sauce

Last week, we had a great dinner with friends at Mercat a la Planxa (definitely get the tasting menu if you go there), and, being a Spanish restaurant, romesco sauce made more than one appearance in our tasting menu. While I've made several variations of roasted red pepper sauces before, I had never actually made this classic sauce. It's pretty easy to make, and, as this dinner shows, it goes well with quite a few dishes. Here, I served it two ways: with asparagus topped with a fried egg, and with lamb shoulder chops.The lamb shoulder chops had been marinated in a vacuum sealed bag with some oil that had been infused with garlic, pepper, bay lead, rosemary and thyme. Both the lamb and the asparagus were cooked "a la plancha" on my big cast iron griddle.

You can look up several variations of romesco sauce online. Here's what I ended up making, based on the ingredients I had on hand.
2 red bell peppers
4 plum tomatoes
1/4 onion
2 piquillo peppers
1 ancho chile
4 garlic cloves
1T red wine vinegar
1T sherry vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
2-3 inches of a bagguette, crust removed, cubed, and toasted.
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 tsp paprika
salt, pepper to taste

Half and core the tomatoes and bell peppers. Cover the tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with some a couple tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400F for an hour. Let cool and remove the skin from the tomatoes and peppers. Meanwhile, soak the ancho chile in warm water to rehydrate. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and season to taste with salt and pepper. Make sure to toast the almonds, otherwise the nutty flavor of the almonds (which is the thing that makes romesco sauce special) won't come through.

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