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Dried Espelette Chile Peppers
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Piment d' Espelette peppers mature from a bright green to a deep red color. The smooth skin is tough, yet thin. When dried the Piment d'Espelette pepper is a deep maroon color and shriveled. It offers a smoky flavor and has a medium heat, scoring 4,000 units on the Scoville scale.
Dried Piment d'Espelette peppers are available in the mid-fall.
The Dried Espelette pepper is called the "king of the chile world," and is most often called Piment d'Espelette; French for "pepper of Espelette". It's name refers to the small town where the peppers grow. Piment d'Espelette is the only pepper in the world to be classified with an Appellation d’origine controlee, or AOC, which is similar to the protected status of Champagne.
As with most chile peppers the Piment d' Espelette can stimulate digestion, improve circulation and can aid in the absorption of nutrients.
When dried and ground, Piment d' Espelette peppers can be added to numerous dishes. Add ground Piment d' Espelette peppers to mayonnaise, giving it a touch of spice and sweet pepper flavor. The Piment d' Espelette chile pairs well with roasted vegetables, wild mushrooms and is a key ingredient in Bayonne ham which is rubbed with the dried pepper to impart its unique flavor. Sliced veal and Axoa lamb are often prepared with Piment d'Espelette peppers; both are typical dishes from the Basque region. The dried pepper can be added to soups or stews for a little heat and smoke flavor. Piment d'Espelette can be used in place of Paprika or New Mexico red chile.
The Piment d' Espelette chile pepper is celebrated during the last weekend in October. Thousands of people gather to recognize and celebrate the Basque's region most revered agricultural product. In this region, you can find the Piment d' Espelette chile peppers strung up to dry outside village homes and businesses.
The Espelette pepper was first introduced in the Nive Valley located in France by a man named Gonzalo Percaztegi in 1523. Today they are grown in the Basque region of France, located along the border with Spain amidst the Pyrénées. Per the AOC, only peppers grown in ten areas - roughly three thousand acres - can be called Piment d'Espelette.