I discovered this classic Basque dish when I visited the town of Espelette in southwestern France, famous for its mild dark red chillies drying under the eaves of the whitewashed houses. I brought home jars of the ground piment d’Espelette which flavours this and so many other Basque dishes, but you can buy it online from Nomad Distribution or substitute sweet paprika with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Axoa d’Espelette (pronounced at-cho-a) is a pepper stew; the recipe varies from cook to cook but red capsicum, pale green bullhorn chilies, ground dried Espelette chillies and onion are essential. It’s traditionally made with veal, sometimes minced but I prefer the texture of a hand-cut dice, and has a touch of heat but isn’t spicy hot; extra piment is always served alongside for diners to add as they like. Tempranillo, traditional to the Spanish Basque region of Álava is a great match with this dish, I enjoyed Margan Wine’s tempranillo graciano shiraz from the Hunter Valley with it.
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