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Choricero Chile Peppers
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Choricero chile peppers are elongated, curved to straight pods, averaging twenty centimeters in length and four centimeters in width, and have a conical shape that tapers to a point on the non-stem end. The skin is glossy, waxy, and smooth, ripening from green, red, to dark red when mature. Underneath the skin, the flesh is thick, crisp, and aqueous, encasing a central cavity filled with pale red-orange ribs and flat and round, cream-colored seeds. Choricero chile peppers have a sweet, tangy, and earthy flavor mixed with a mild heat.
Fresh Choricero chile peppers are available in the fall, while the dried peppers are available year-round.
Choricero chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are a mildly spicy, Spanish variety of pepper that belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Also known as Guernika, Gernika, and Cuerno de Cabra, the name Choricero translates to “chorizo” in English, which is derived from the traditional Spanish sausage that uses the pepper as one of the main ingredients. Choricero chile peppers are rarely found fresh and are traditionally air-dried, often found strung together in large bunches and hung to dry from the facades of houses in the Basque region of northern Spain. The large, dark red peppers develop a concentrated flavor when dried and once rehydrated, the flesh is scraped from the skin and used as a flavoring in sauces and broths. Choricero flesh or pulp is also commercially sold by the jar under the name “carne de pimiento Choricero.”
Choricero chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and also contain calcium, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, dietary fiber, and carotenes, which provide antioxidant benefits.
Choricero chile peppers are primarily dried and rehydrated for their flesh, but the peppers can also be used similarly to other sweet peppers in raw or cooked applications. When fresh, Choricero chile peppers can be diced into salsas, sauces, and dips, tossed into salads, or sliced and consumed out-of-hand as a snack. The peppers can also be roasted with other vegetables, stuffed with meat and cheeses and baked, or grilled for a smoky flavor. When dried, Choricero chile peppers need to be rehydrated, and the flesh is then scraped from the skin to make a paste-like mixture for use as a sauce base. This mixture can be stirred into soups, chilis, and stews, used to season fish, poultry, or other meats, stirred into casseroles, or tossed into cooked vegetables. The peppers are also well-known for their use in chorizo sausage. Choricero chile peppers pair well with red onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, oregano, cabbage, kidney beans, meats such as bacon, sausage, and fish, lentils, polenta, and risotto. Fresh peppers will keep up to one week when loosely stored whole and unwashed in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator. Dried peppers will keep up to one year when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
In Basque, a coastal region on the Bay of Biscay and along the border between Spain and France, Choricero chile peppers are a key ingredient in many traditional recipes. Mirroring the region’s placement between land and sea, Choricero chile peppers provide a tangy and smoky flavor to dishes such as marmitako, which is a potato and tuna stew. This stew was originally made on fishing boats of Basque fisherman who were fishing for tuna and once caught, the tuna would be freshly placed into the stew. Bacalao a la vizcaina is another traditional Basque seafood stew that simmers cod in a pepper and tomato sauce. This dish has expanded to many Spanish-speaking countries around the world and is cooked for holidays and important celebrations. Representing land-based dishes, Choricero chile peppers are used in a biscayne sauce or salsa vizcaina, which is a sweet pepper sauce that is used to flavor fresh garden snails, a delicacy in the Basque region.
Choricero chile peppers are descendants of Central and South American chile peppers that were introduced to Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries via Spanish explorers. Once established in Spain, the variety was developed in a small region in the north of Spain called Navarre, which was a Basque kingdom in medieval times and the area is still well-known today for its regional cuisine. Outside of Spain, fresh Choricero chile peppers are somewhat rare and can be found in southern California and in a Basque community in Idaho, where seeds for the pepper are traded like currency. Dried Choricero chile peppers can be found through online retailers and specialty grocers in Europe, the United States, Central America, and in South America.
Recipes that include Choricero Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Splendid Table||Garden Snails in Bizkaina Sauce|
|Keep Recipes||Beef Barbacoa|
|Eusk Guide Blog||Marmitako|
|Bon Appetit||Beans and Sausage|