Guernica Chile Peppers
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Guernica chile peppers have a classic pepper shape and are broader at their shoulders tapering down towards their tip end. The pods are narrow, measuring approximately three to four inches in length. The Guernica chile pepper is most commonly utilized in its immature and green stage of growth. If allowed to fully ripen on the vine its skin will become tougher and turn to a bright red hue. Its exterior skin has a glossy sheen and unlike many other varieties of pepper is exceptionally smooth and free from wrinkles. Its flavor, similar to that of the padron pepper is savory and grassy and has little to no heat with only one out of ten peppers offering any kind of hot spice. Typically grown in the cool to mild climate of the Basque region, Guernica chile peppers grown in hotter climates will take on a more intense heat.
The Guernica chile pepper is available in the summer and early falls months.
Guernica chile pepper, also known as Gernika or Pimientos de Gernika in Basque is botanically a part of Capsicum annuum. A Spanish chile it is today certified as an officially protected Basque pepper and when sold in other countries in the EU must have a seal on its packaging indicating such. To be an official Guernica chile the pepper must have been grown within fifty kilometers of the Cantabrian zone of Spain. To be sold as a Pimiento de Gernika the peppers also must meet a standard level of qualifications in terms of their size, shape, skin texture, uniformity of color, and visual appearance.
Guernica chile peppers are classically served and consumed as a finger food. Similar to the padron pepper they are traditionally prepared by pan frying in olive oil till the skin blisters then finishing with sea salt. Prior to frying a small slit should be cut into the pepper pod to prevent it from bursting while cooking. Once blistered they can be served as is or they can be chopped and added to sandwiches, pizzas, egg preparations and rice dishes such as paella. Their size is also ideal for using in stuffed preparations filled with cheese, ground meat and other fillings. The peppers can be roasted or grilled, a preparation which imparts a deep, smoky flavor. Once fully mature and red the peppers can be dried and made into a powdered spice. The Guernica chile pepper pairs well with citrus, balsamic vinegar, creamy sauces, manchego cheese, goat cheese, onion, sundried tomato, white wine, lobster, chorizo, ham, and shellfish. To store, keep Guernica peppers refrigerated and use within one to two weeks.
The Guernica and padron chile peppers are one of the most common foods in the Basque region and popularly served as a garnish, first course or aperitif. They are also classically served in the Basque region as a pinxto (pincho) or tapa, a petite snack served in bars. The name pincho translates to mean spike, an appropriate name as the small bites are commonly served with a toothpick through the center for ease in eating and as a way for the bars to keep track of how many pinchos each patron has consumed. The town of Guernica that offers the peppers namesake is also home to the largest produce market in all of Basque country and today the Guernica pepper is one of the signature items sold.
Peppers first made their way to Europe via explorers that had brought them back from the New World. In time the flavor of some peppers which when grown in the New World had been spicy hot became milder when grown in regions with more moderate and cool climates such as France and Spain. The Guernica chile is one such example of a pepper that has gone through this location triggered change. Grown from seeds sourced from the New World, once produced in the Basque country the pepper took on a much softer flavor and heat and its flesh a more tender texture. Originally known as Pimiento de Bizkaia it was renamed after the town of Guernica in honor of the country’s most famous produce market located in Guernica. Today the pepper is predominately grown in the neighboring Province of Vizcaya. Since 1993 it has been an officially protected Basque pepper and when sold and marketed in Europe it must display a seal indicating its high quality level and origin as having been grown within fifty kilometers of the Cantabrian zone in Spain. The Cantabrian zone of Spain, located between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Bay of Biscay is known for its moderate climate and lush vegetation.
Recipes that include Guernica Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Good Life Farm||Roasted Basque Peppers|
|About.com||Mangetout with Gernika Peppers and Spiced with Red Chili Flakes|
|Spicie Foodie||Sautéed and Salted Gernika Peppers|