The red bell pepper is the brightest jewel in the pepper crown, pure and simple. It is the most flavorful and the most nutritious of the bell peppers and because it stays on the vine longer than the others, it has a more full, ripened flavor than other bell peppers. When raw it is crisp and juicy, and the sweetness then hints at more to come as it cook slowly, melting into a fine and beautiful “marmalade”.
You Choose How Much Spice!
There is nothing spicy about the red bell pepper, however. It has a pleasant edge when raw which softens as it cooks. Once it gets a little cream and a dash of heat – you choose how much! – it makes a sauce that stops conversation.
Once you’ve made the sauce you’ll find so many ways to use it – think about it as your next dip for lightly steamed vegetables, as a sauce for roast chicken, or even spooned over steak or lamb. You can even freeze it, BEFORE you add the cream, so that you have it on hand.
Finest Fish in the Sea
But I recommend you serve it as I do here, with one of the finest fish in the ocean, cod (which is not endangered. The fishery is controlled so that we should have cod for generations to come). If you don’t have that, any white fish will do, from haddock to flounder. The pure flavor of white fish is simply the perfect complement to the pepper sauce, its gentle flavor and texture highlighting the depth of the pepper sauce, as the sauce enhances the tenderness of the fish.
And There is More
And remember, not only are you getting all the sunny flavor of the red bell pepper in this sauce, but vitamins A and C and a good portion of potassium. What more could one ask for? So get to the kitchen, make this elegant (and easy) sauce, and wow everyone who sits at your table! which offers everything from nutrition to elegance and unforgettable flavor.
GRILLED PEPPERS AND CREAM WITH COD - POIVRONS GRILLÉES A LA CRÈME AU CABILLAUD
- For the sauce:
- 5 good-sized red bell peppers
- 5 cloves garlic unpeeled
- ½-3/4 cup;125-185ml heavy cream
- Fine sea salt
- Piment d’Espelette or hot paprika
- For the cod:
- 1-1/2 pounds;750kg cod loin, or other thick (about 1-1/2 inches; 3.75cm) white fillet, cut in 6 serving pieces, boned if necessary, rinsed and refrigerated
- 1 fresh bay leaf lauris nobilis, or dried imported
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place the grilled peppers on a gas flame or in the oven under the broiler, or over the coals, and grill until the skin is black all over, turning them regularly. When the peppers are grilled, which will take about 6 minutes per side, depending on the heat you’re using, either put them in a paper bag, or in a bowl with a lid and let them cool. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, slip off the skin. Pull out the central core of seeds, then carefully, using a plastic scraper or table knife, scrape out the rest of the seeds. Don’t rinse the peppers; you’ll rinse away flavor.
- While the peppers are grilling, place the garlic in a small saucepan, cover them by an inch (2.5cm) with water, add a generous pinch of salt and a bay leaf, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the water is simmering merrily, cover, and cook until the cloves are soft through, which will take about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain the garlic.
- When the garlic cloves are cool enough to handle, peel them. Place them, with the cleaned, grilled peppers, in the work bowl of a food processor, and puree until smooth. Add the cream, puree, then adjust the seasoning
- Place the cod fillets in a large skillet and add enough water so there is ¼-inch (.75cm) in the pan. Add salt, pepper, and the bay leaf to the water, then set the cod in the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and when the water starts sending up bubbles from the bottom of the pan, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook until the fish is nearly but not quite opaque through, which will take about 4 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Check the fish for doneness by lifting it with a spatula – it shouldn’t flake but should remain in one piece (because the very center won’t be fully cooked, which is what you want). Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fish to a large plate or platter to rest while it gives up liquid. It will continue to cook once out of the pan.
- To serve, pour a thick round of sauce in the center of 6 warmed dinner plates. Transfer the cod from the plate using the slotted spatula, and before setting it on the sauce, rest it on a linen or cotton towel to absorb any liquid still on the fish then set it on the sauce. Season the fish with the piment d’Espelette, the fleur de sel, and garnish with a basil leaf. Serve immediately.