Basque country spans the border between France and Spain on the Atlantic coast. It is made up of the Autonomous Communities of the Basque Country and Navarre in Spain and Norther Basque Country in France. Piperade is the national dish of the Basque people. It’s basically a hash without the potatoes.
Pipperade is served in restaurants and cafes throughout France. There are many different styles and variations of the dish, but here is one that I particularly like. If you want to add ham, consider prosciutto The saltiness and fat renders nicely into the dish and give it an extra layer of flavour. This dish is perfect for breakfast or brunch; as it takes about an hour and change to cook from beginning to end, having someone get up a little early to get things started will result in a happy house by the time everyone wakes up.
- Olive oil, 1 tbsp
- Onion, chopped, 1 cup
- Green Peppers, cut into thin slices, 6
- Garlic, finely chopped, 2 cloves
- Bayonne, Parma, or Prociutto ham, thinly sliced, 4 ounces
- Tomatoes, peeled and seeded, 4 pounds
- Eggs, 6 (Optional)
- sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper, to taste
1: Slice x’s into the top and bottom ends of the tomatoes and place into boiling water. This will make it easy to peel later. Leave the tomatoes in there for about 3-4 minutes, then remove. They will be really hot, so you can give them an ice water bath for a minute afterwards to speed things up. Once you can handle the tomatoes, peel the skin off with a knife, then dice. Reserve.
2: Heat the oil in a large sauce pan (a cast iron pan works well too) over medium heat and cook until the onions soften and have begun to turn translucent. Add the peppers and cook until they have softened.
3: While the onion and peppers are cooking, cut the ham into small pieces and stir into the onion/pepper mixture. Also, add the tomatoes to the mixture now as well.
4: Once all the ingredients are in, give it one more mix and then let simmer for about an hour on low heat. By the time you’re done simmering, the tomatoes should be fairly reduced and the entire mixture should have thickened somewhat.
5: Add the cayenne and black pepper to taste and cook an additional 5 minutes. If you don’t want to add eggs, serve now. Otherwise, move to step 6.
6: (Optional). Crack half a dozen eggs or so and place gently along the top of the mixture. Place pan in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes at 400. Serve Immediately.