Friday, March 18, 2011

Romesco - a delicious sauce with a crunch!

Romesco, according to Wikipedia, is a sauce originating Spain that is typically made from almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil and nyora peppers, a smaller, sweet, dried variety of red bell pepper. Other common ingredients include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar and onion.
   Sounds good, doesn’t it?
   I know for a fact that it is after making Chicken Cutlets with Romesco and Serrano Cracklins from Bon Appetit magazine.
   The romesco sauce in this recipe uses jarred red bell peppers and almonds, and the result is outstanding.
   I’ve never had a sauce that was a little crunchy, but this one is! The almonds, which are blended into small pieces, provide the crunch. The nuts also “hold” the sauce together so it is more like a spread rather than a sauce.
   The simple salad of lettuce and parsley that is served alongside the chicken is a perfect accompaniment. Both chicken and salad have a bright, light taste and texture that perfect for ushering in spring.
   The recipe calls for fresh breadcrumbs made from a baguette. We used panko instead, a type of ready-made breadcrumb that can be found in the bakery or Asian foods section of many supermarkets.
   The recipe also calls for Sherry wine vinegar. We couldn’t find this, and substituted red wine vinegar for it.
   To make the romesco, the vinegar, breadcrumbs, jarred roasted red bell peppers, olive oil, garlic and paprika are blended together.
   Thinly-sliced Serrano ham or proscuitto is sauted until crisp and transferred to a bowl.
   In the same skillet, chicken cutlets that have been coated with a mixture of breadcrumbs and parsley are cooked.
   The chicken is served with romesco sauce and the ham on top, and a salad of olive oil, red wine vinegar, lettuce and parsley on the side.

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