23 March 2012

A Tribute to Elena Arzak With Basque Chicken and Roasted Fingerlings with Red and Yellow Pipérade

Basque Chicken with Roasted Fingerlings with Red and Yellow Piperade
In Europe, the Basques are known for their creativity in the kitchen and their long-enduring culinary heritage. In the Spanish Basque country itself, food and eating are the center of everyday life and the focus of endless conversation. Basque women lovingly pass on their cooking techniques to daughters and granddaughters, and Basque men, who belong to traditional cooking clubs called "txokos", themselves enjoy lingering over the stove and table. Basque people have been tremendously successful in passing down their traditions and lore and maintaining a link to their culture through both cooking and storytelling.

So in a cuisine dominated in the past by men Elena Arzak deserves her rightful place on "the list" of Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers.  Whether you agree or disagree with the authors chosen fifty and their order it has been an enjoyable and creative outlet to cook from the masters and those we admire with a group of dedicated ladies. There have even been a few successful bloggers on "the list". We have checked out books from the library, borrowed cookbooks from friends, surfed the Internet and browsed our own cookbook collections seeking that one recipe that will highlight that weeks outstanding woman. This group is spearheaded by my favourite well-travelled blogger Mary of One Perfect Bite who back in June 2011 invited bloggers to travel along on a culinary journey throughout the year. It is still not too late to join in in 2012.

Elean Arzak
Elena Arzak is a three Michelin-starred chef who, along with her famous father, has  interpreted modern Basque cooking with often astounding technique in their restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain. Elena is the fourth generation of the Arzak family to head the kitchen at their inspirational and ground-breaking restaurant. Her approach to food is equal parts chef, historian, scientist and alchemist. 
“We like taking risks because without risks you don’t move forward”, she says. 
The lovingly presented foods like crisp smoked potatoes fashioned into Yamamoto-style pleats with sizzling prawns concealed in the folds.; hyper-fresh egg perhaps, seasoned with house-made truffle oil, wrapped in plastic film, poached and served with a slim txistorra sausage; Cellophane of tempered oysters; or astonishingly perfect Hake fish with a sauce of white clay. In my humble opinion this type of cooking should be delegated to a wonderful dining experience and I would not attempt it at home, therefore for this weeks Woman Game Changer I opted to recreate a Basque-inspired meal in my own kitchen.

What have we been up to in our own kitchens with this weeks Game Changer in Food.....

Mary of One Perfect Bite - 
Milk Braised Pork Tenderloin with Spinach and Strawberry Salad
Val of More Than Burnt Toast - Basque Chicken and Roasted Fingerlings with Red and Yellow Pipérade
Susan of The Spice Garden  - Roast Cod with Hot Garlic and Chili Dressing
Taryn of Have Kitchen, Will Feed 
Heather of Girlichef  - Garlic Wafers

Barbara of Moveable Feasts - Dorie’s Gateau Basque
Nancy of Picadillo
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits - Hake with Green Sauce
Veronica of My Catholic Kitchen - Spiked Sidra Shandy 
Annie  at Most Lovely Things
Claudia of Journey of an Italian Cook
Alyce of More Time at The Table - 
Basque Lamb Stew and Sheepherders' Bread
Amrita of Beetle's Kitchen Escapades
Martha at Simple Nourished Living 
Jill at Saucy Cooks  Hake with Ham Powder and Garlic Wafers

Pipérade refers to the classic Basque stew made with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and garlic. Now this recipe is not a stew but a representation of the flavours in a pipérade. Small potatoes known as fingerlings have a sweet, buttery flavour and lend themselves well to this Basque-inspired dish although small red-skinned potatoes would work well, too.

The chicken is also a Basque-inspired dish from the test kitchen of the LA Times. The trick to cooking chicken breasts well and to maintaining their moistness is to even it out -- pound it into a thin paillard. Give the breasts a three-minute pan fry until they're nearly done, and then in the same pan make a quick Basque-style sauce with tomatoes, olives, herbs and slightly smoky pancetta.

**Basque Chicken** 

  Espelette pepper is available at specialty food stores. You can substitute canned San Marzano tomatoes for fresh tomatoes.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 7 ounces each
1/2 teaspoon salt
 Freshly ground black pepper
 1 tablespoon butter
 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
 2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4 -inch pieces
 2 tablespoons minced shallot
 1 clove garlic, crushed
 1/2 cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio
 1/2 cup chicken broth
 1/8 teaspoon Espelette pepper
 3 sprigs thyme
 1/2 cup diced tomato, cut into 3/4 -inch dice
 1/4 cup nicoise olives

1. Place each chicken breast between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet or heavy skillet, pound each breast until it is uniformly about one-fourth-inch thick. Season each piece with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Place each breast on top of a large piece of plastic wrap or wax paper.

2. In a large skillet, heat the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken, one piece at a time, and sauté until golden-brown, about 2 1/2 minutes on the first side and 30 seconds on the other. Remove the chicken to a plate. Set aside in a warm place.

3. Drain the excess fat from the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until browned, about 2 minutes. Add the shallot and sauté for 1 minute, until tender, then add the garlic and sauté just until aromatic, a few seconds, being careful not to brown. Add the wine, stirring to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan.

4. Stir in the chicken broth, the Espelette pepper, thyme and tomatoes. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes so that the flavors develop. Stir in the olives.

5. Add the chicken back to the pan, spooning the sauce over it. Cook for 1 minute, then remove the chicken to a plate. Spoon the sauce evenly over each piece, and serve immediately.

Serves 2

**Roasted Fingerlings with Red and Yellow Pipérade**
Bon Appétit | November 2007
Michael Lomonaco

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-wide strips
2 large yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-wide strips
1 large red onion, halved through core, thinly sliced crosswise
3 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Pour 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil onto large rimmed baking sheet. Spread all peppers and sliced onion over, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast 10 minutes.

Place halved potatoes and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Arrange potatoes in single layer atop peppers.

Roast until potatoes are tender and beginning to turn golden, about 50 minutes.

DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 425°F oven for 10 minutes before continuing.

Sprinkle chopped parsley and shallots over potatoes and toss to coat. Roast potatoes 5 minutes longer. Transfer potatoes to large platter. Sprinkle with chives, basil, and thyme. Drizzle with Champagne vinegar and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 8 - 10

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. That is a fabulous recipe¨those fingerlings look incredibly scrumptious.



  2. What a gorgeous meal, Val. It sounds wonderful and both the Arzak's would approve. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. Even just the title of the recipe sounds yummy. I have read up a bit on Basque cuisine and it's very intriguiging. I don't know if they have this show in Canada, but the Cooking Channel in the US has a show called "From Spain with Love" where the host visits various places in Spain and demonstrates the recipes and cooking techniques. She actually gained admittance to one of those men's cooking clubs for one show. Such a pity that they were only for men. Just fascinating!

  4. With all my travel to Spain, I've never been to the Basque region and it is high on my travel list for just the reason expressed here ... the food! hahaha, as if 'food' was not usually the highlight of any of my travels!

  5. I have always been intrigued with Basque cuisine combining foods from France and Spain. This recipe is a good example and would be enjoyed at my place.

  6. Val that does look good! I could eat that right now!!

  7. We have family friends that are Basque, but from the French side, so I'm not as familiar with the Spanish aspects.

  8. Look sooo delicious Vall!!! have a nice weekend!

  9. I'm happy to meet yet another cook that I'm not familiar with. The recipe that you chose looks really delicious!


  10. This looks absolutely irresistible! What a delicious and simple recipe. Thanks for sharing. Also, I’m having a great giveaway today with four potential prize winners, so you should enter!

  11. That looks delicious! You picked a great recipe this week. I dont know about you but it was a hard one for me.

  12. What a wonderful meal, Val! I love the simple ingredients that get easy treatment. It honors their textures and develops flavours without making them pretentious ... simple fare perfectly prepared. Great post honoring Basque cuisine!

  13. Perfect choice, Val. I love the way you've prepared the chicken and I felt I could reach right in for one of those fingerlings!
    It was fun to learn about Basque cooking, something I knew little about.

  14. This is a beautifully inspired dish...that I would savor. Wonderful post :D

  15. I agree! what a wonderful meal! I love the way you do your research and explain it all in such a very readable way! Great dish, great choice!

  16. I couldn't agree with you more that their type of cooking should be relegated to the dining experience. Though Basque food in general is great for the home cook.

  17. I couldn't agree with you more that their food should be regulated for the dining experience; though Basque food in general is great for home cooks.

  18. Those potatoes are definitely what I"m craving! I love their crispy caramelly outsides!

  19. This sounds wonderful - I love all the ingredients and your description sounds wonderful. We really enjoy chicken paillards and this version looks amazing!

  20. A beautiful dish. I loved learning more about the Basque region cooking. Fascinating. I've so enjoyed this series.

  21. I haven't made any Basque recipes, that I know of, but I love the flavors a lot. This Pipérade is something I would love-- even just over polenta. Fingerlings are my favorite potatoes, and you've done a lovely job with this dish. Kudos to you.

  22. Never heard of this recipe, but it looks amazing. Thanks for choosing this one to share!

  23. I am really enjoying this series and once again I've found another lady I'm not familiar with. This has been a nourishing and education experience.

    I made Basque chicken with peppers and mine wasn't nearly as pretty as yours Val. But the flavors were incredible. I will definitely give this recipe a try.

  24. What an absolutely delicious looking dish!

  25. This whole meal sounds fantastic, Val! What wonderful flavors in both recipes.

  26. I have seen her work with her father. Great post Val

  27. This is so interesting. I thought it was sausage at first. I can tell how the flavors work just by seeing it and reading the recipe.

  28. This looks like a meal, I could really sink my teeth into.


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