Basque Style Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers. They are my favourite choice from the dinner party repertoire I have.

Back home, you would have one on a toasted piece of bread topped up with a lovely pepper sauce… But one is not enough for me.

Cooking time: 50 minutes + 10 minutes prior to serving
Quantity: This mix makes 28* pieces

Tips:

1. I would suggest that you buy the roasted peppers in a glass jar of 450 gr. Medium size peppers, ideally “piquillo” type. You will need 32 units: 28 to stuff and 4 to make the topping sauce.

2. Use white fish. Something flaky like cod, haddock, even basa. Ideally buy sustainable please.

3. Have your hand blender in hand to “save the day” with the béchamel (if necessary) and to make a smooth sauce.

4. Grind the nutmeg freshly each time

5. If you cannot have shellfish make the sauce with no crab. It will still be delicious.

Ingredients:

1 pint of luke warm milk
200gr of white fish
1 Medium size onion finely chopped
3 spoons of olive oil
4 spoonful of plain white flour
2no 450 gr of piquillo peppers
Pinch of salt
Nutmeg

For the sauce:
2 spoons of olive oil
3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
4 of the roasted peppers finely chopped
1 tin of crab meat (175 gr)

Cooking Instructions:

Cut the fish in small pieces and place them in the milk for a while, whilst you do the chopping and get the ingredients ready.

Fry the onion in slow heat until takes honey colour.

Add the flour and mix until there is an even oil coating on the mix. (You might need to add some more oil to achieve this, but it is an important step to avoid the flour to be undercook and bitter tasting)

In another pan, fry the garlic until golden and then add the chopped roasted peppers.

Remove the fish from the milk and keep in the side.

When the mix is coated, add the milk slowly making sure that you dissolve the flour fully. If you are not able to do so, or run out of patience, my mom’s trick is very useful: Blend the mix and add it back to the pan to continue cooking.

When the smooth mix has been cooking for about 15 minutes, add the fish and continue cooking.

Make sure that you regularly stir the mix with a wooden spoon as béchamel has a tendency to stick to the pan which you need to keep under control.

In the pan of the sauce mix add the crab and cook in very slow heat for 5 minutes. Then blend the mix until smooth and continue cooking for further 10 minutes. Then set aside.

Return to the bechamel , season the and add the nutmeg to your taste. The quantity is very personal.

After another 20 minutes, remove from the heat and let it cool down.

When the mix is cool, stuff the 28 peppers and lay them on oven proof ceramic dishes and top up with the sauce mix.

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees c, gas mark 4 about 15 minutes before serving. Place in the oven for 10 minutes and serve.

Typically, you would serve as a pintxo: 1 stuffed pepper with the sauce as a top up on the top of a slice of a slightly toasted bread (baguette or ciabatta) .

Photograph by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Recipe by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate

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