Romesco 3 Ways

First of all, I have to send love out to Boston. Miguel and I traveled there for our friends’ wedding almost 4 years ago and developed such an affinity for that city that has lasted since, probably because our very close friend, the bride, grew up there. Attending a Red Sox Yankees game and singing “Sweet Caroline” is probably top 10 in life highlights. Miguel still brags he ate 17 different types of sea creatures there. I hate that these tragedies keep happening. And while I don’t know why, I know that they do remind us all of what is important in life and bring us all together, if just for a little while. Now on to the post…

Romesco sauce has become a Saturday night tradition in the Diaz household. It all Romescostarted a few years ago when Miguel was sitting in the “husband chairs” at Anthropologie and picked up a cookbook about Spain. That day it was him, not me, buying something from Anthropologie–the irony. For some reason, he chose to make romesco sauce from the cookbook, which is a red pepper and nut-based sauce from Spain that is traditionally served with seafood. The food that we have with romesco, usually grilled chicken and potatoes, has just become a vehicle for the romesco. And what’s great is that romesco tastes amazing on pretty much anything, hence the title of my post. Romesco does take a bit of work to put together, but the reward is well worth it and it lasts in the fridge for at least a week. Also, no, I did not have a bet with someone about how many times I can use the word “romesco” in a pharagraph. Wow. If you’re counting, it was 7.

We started off Saturday night with the usual: grilled chicken, potatoes and salad. Saturday morning: scrambled egg tacos (they also make a delicious and quick worknight meal). Saturday night: chicken enchiladas. All smothered in romesco. That makes 8 now.

(In the name of full disclosure, I have never made this myself but I have had a few requests for this recipe, and Miguel has been dying to be a “guest blogger”.)

Romesco sauce:

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 15 oz. jar of roasted red bell peppers
  • 2 small roma tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic, unpeeled, wrapped in aluminum foil pouch
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp smoked paprika (It can have a bit of a bite to it, so add 1 tbsp if you’re sensitive to heat.)

Preheat the oven to 400˚. On a parchment lined baking sheet, roast the fresh red bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic for about 15-20 minutes, until the skins of the bell peppers are starting to blacken. Allow the bell peppers and tomatoes to cool slightly and then remove as much of the skins as possible (I’ve found the easiest way to do this is place them in a brown paper bag and allow them to steam for a few minutes, the skins will come right off). Remove the skins from the garlic once they have cooled.

Bring a small pot of water to boil. When you reach a rolling boil, blanch the hazelnuts for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Combine jarred red bell peppers, freshly roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, hazelnuts, smoked paprika, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of olive oil in a food processor. Pureé until smooth. If necessary, with the motor running, drizzle in more olive oil until you reach a pesto-like consistency.

Saturday Morning Egg Tacos (Serves 2 people who eat a lot)

  • 3 whole eggs, 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk 
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 6 tortillas
  • 1 cup arugula
  • Romesco sauce!

Whisk the whole eggs, egg whites, olive oil and a generous pinch of salt together in aEggs, tacos, romesco, breakfast small bowl. Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add the eggs when the pan is good and warm. Gently bring the cooked eggs from the outside of the pan towards the middle of the pan, allowing the uncooked egg to spread out to the edges, which will allow the eggs to cook evenly.

While your eggs cook, bring a small saute pan to medium heat. Crisp the tortillas for about 2-3 minutes per side, until starting to brown slightly.

Evenly divide eggs between the tortillas, top with a bit of minced shallot, a few avocado slices, a few arugula leaves, and of course a very generous dollop of romesco sauce!

Sunday night: Chicken enchiladas with, you guessed it!, romesco sauce! For this recipe, I used my previous recipe, black bean, cauliflower & pickled red onion enchiladas, but substituted 6 oz of shredded jack cheese for the goat cheese, and added left over shredded chicken from Saturday night. I also left the pickled red onions out of the enchilada filling, instead using them as just a topping. And, of course, I used romesco as the enchilada sauce. I had about 2 cups of romesco left over, to which I added about 1/2 cup of chicken broth to thin it out and cover the enchiladas. I then covered the enchiladas with another 2 oz of jack cheese and baked for 20 minutes in a 400 oven until the cheese was melted and golden.

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Coq Au Vin

“Life for the Italians was what it was, no more and no less, an interlude between meals.” -Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone

When I was a kid, my mom taught me that you dress up to show respect for an Mirepoixoccasion. No, this isn’t a post about my visceral reaction to leaving the house in sweatpants, but rather how this lesson has translated to my meals. Odds are, when you’re spending time with friends or family, you’re sharing a meal together. And if that meal is on a holiday, hours and hours were probably spent planning, prepping and cooking that meal. Those meals are the bookmarks of our lives. So when it comes time to preparing meals for loved ones, spending time thinking about what I’m going to cook and cooking that meal (usually biting off more than I can chew, no pun intended), is a way of showing respect for the fact that someone is taking time out of their busy life to spend time together. I put love in to that meal.

Last friday, my husband and I had his sister and her boyfriend over for dinner. It’s not everyCoq au Vin day we get to spend time together, her boyfriend had never seen our new house, and hell it was a Friday, so I wanted to make something special. And since I’ve become obsessed with all things Parisian after our trip to Paris last spring, coq au vin, chicken braised in red wine sauce, seemed like the logical choice. I spent hours prepping and braising this delicious dish, listening to my Edith Piaf Pandora station, putting love in to this meal. I had a great time, and we had a wonderful evening.

As I said, this meal is not a weeknight meal. But if you’re willing to put in the time, the effort is well worth it. Note: Make sure the bacon you choose isn’t overly smoky, or it will overwhelm the red wine sauce you spent so much time making!

Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 6 skin-on, bone-in whole chicken legs (thigh & drumstick)
  • 12 oz. bacon, cut in to 1/2” pieces
  • 4 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bottle red wine, such as Burgundy (I used a Côtes du Rhone)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme & a few sprigs of fresh rosemary tied together with butcher’s twine
  • 1 lb. assorted mushrooms chopped in to bite sized pieces (I used mostly baby oyster mushrooms & a few cremini mushrooms because that what was available but you could go wild here)

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Liberally season your chicken legs with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive olive over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven (or other large ovenproof pot). Brown your chicken legs on both sides, two at a time, until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes per side. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate.

After you finish browning the chicken, add the bacon to the pot and cook until rendered. Add celery, carrots and onion and cook until soft and the onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add 1/4 of the bottle of red wine and the tomato paste, stir to release all the browned goodness from the bottom of the bot and simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the remainder of your bottle of red wine and simmer until the red wine is reduced by about half, 15-20 minutes.

Returned browned chicken to the pot, add your fresh herbs, and add chicken broth. Cover and bring to boil. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise for 1 1/4 hours.

When your chicken is almost done braising, bring a large sauté pan to medium heat. I can’t remember where I learned this now, but someone taught me to add your mushrooms to a dry pan, allow them to release a little of their own moisture first and then add olive oil. They get less greasy when cooking, I swear, no one knows why or maybe I just can’t remember. Cook the mushrooms until browned, about 10 minutes.

Remove your Dutch oven from the oven (be careful, it’s HOT!). Add the mushrooms to the chicken, and simmer the sauce until reduced by about 1/3, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Be careful not season the sauce before it reduces, or it could get overly salty and peppery. Bon appétit!