Inspired by a meeting with an Espelette chilli grower, 2008
The spicy, colored note of Espelette chilli reveals the flavor of salted butter. An ideal aroma to fold into mashed potatoes, placed on a grilled cut of prime rib, with fish en papillote, or on fillets of red snapper, it may also surprise your palate when added to the batter for tiny chocolate lava cakes.
Grown in the Basque Country in Southwestern France, the Espelette chili inherited its name from the eponymous local community. Originally from South America, the chili was introduced into the Basque Country in the 17th century. Conical, meaty and hanging on its vine, the chili becomes red when ripened and is dried slowly in the sun before being ground into a powder. Basque cooks use it instead of pepper.
The Espelette Chili has benefitted from a French appellation d’origine controllée or verified designation of origin (exactly like Champagne or Camembert) since June 1, 2000, which was thereafter strengthened into an origine protégée or protected designation of origin on August 22, 2002. It is produced in only ten communities and is handpicked every August. In the fall, homes in these communities are all decorated with braided strands of Espelette chilis. This salted butter perfectly gives off the unmistakable aroma of this flavorful chili.