The Heart wants what the Heart wants.
What can I say. I’m an emotional/stress eater, and this weekend was a rollercoaster. I needed a meal to comfort me.
Saturday morning while on a trip with my girlfriend to visit my parents at Portland’s annual Art in the Pearl show, we found ourselves in an unfortunate learning experience. About an hour after parking in the artists lot next to the art show, our vehicle was broken into and all of our belongings were subsequently stolen. Things that have no street value to speak of, but carry with them an emotional and sentimental attachment for us.
After arriving home and beginning the process of slowly putting our pieces back together again with tail firmly placed between legs, we seeked two things.
Friends/Family and Food.
We were able to eventually move into the laughing phase of grief during the road trip home so it was time to move on and enjoy a friend’s birthday party. The party was a blast and a much needed escape. Great people, great food, cheap beer and fun games. (And a very sick Nic).
The next morning, it was time to recover from my hangover.
After chugging water with as much reckless abandon as I had done beer the night before, it was time to dial in the perfect, comfort food recipe. Seeing as Labor Day weekend is usually the transition point from summer to my beloved fall, a stew-like meal seemed like the perfect remedy for my slowly fading headache and whatever stress lingered from our robbery.
The very first thing to pop in my mind for a comforting meal, Basque Pipérade, has an interesting story that directly relates to our unfortunate Portland adventure this weekend.
Almost exactly 1 year ago to the date, I made this recipe for the first time. We had just come home from a great overnight trip to Portland to visit my parents at the Art in the Pearl show. (Ring any bells?) Timing is funny.
Being that Portland is my kind of food town, we made sure we tried as many different places as our stomachs and wallets could handle. The always crowded and touristy Voodoo Doughnuts for breakfast, a smattering of food carts for lunch, and the legendary Pok Pok for dinner. But amidst all that food, Katie and I found time to have a small, romantic tapas heavy meal at Portland’s apparently busiest restaurant, Toro Bravo. It’s a mixture of French and Spanish inspired small plates that run the gamut from traditional to fusion. We got in right as it opened thankfully as it was full capacity in about 10 minutes, with a line out the door.
Of all the wonderful dishes we had that day, one stood out more than the rest. Not for being complex, unique or exotic (see: Pok Pok), but for being shockingly simple and comforting. When I saw that they had a tomato, pepper and onion based bread dip featuring a duck egg, I admit that I was more excited to try the duck egg. What came out was gorgeous, and hearty looking; a filling plate of old world home cooking that immediately gave me the warm fuzzies. I wanted to drink this stuff up. It was smoky, spicy, garlicky and just packed with flavor. And that was just the dipping sauce base. The addition of runny eggs, poached directly in the sauce elevated the dish into the elite comfort food stratosphere.
Fast forward to the following weekend and I was on the internet scouring recipes to try my hand at it.
And wouldn’t you know it, Toro Bravo Executive Chef John Gorham posted a recipe video for the exact Basque Pipérade dish that had haunted my dreams since I first dipped in a week before. (Watch here: Basque Pipérade with Duck Eggs from Toro Bravo)
Traditionally speaking, a Pipérade is a Basque dish colored with onions, peppers, and tomatoes to reflect the Basque flag (red, green, white). Typical additions include egg, garlic or meats such as ham.
It can be served as meal unto itself, but is traditionally meant to be served as an appetizer to be shared.
After making it myself that night, I was elated that it was just as good as I remember it. Simple in execution, budget friendly and maybe the best surprise, it freezes and reheats very well. We have since made it many more times, and it has become my own personal go-to for rainy day blues. That being said, it makes a great sharing plate. When you want to feed your guests something really special during these next few cold weather months, Basque Pipérade with hearty fresh farm eggs brings double dipping to a whole new level.
P.S. With all of the tomato acid, this dish should last in the fridge just over a week. If frozen immediately, I would guess that it could last a year or so. We reheated some and cracked a few eggs in an 8 month old frozen batch a while ago. The revived batch tasted just as good as the day I made it!
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did, it sure cheered us right up!
- 1 quart can whole peeled san marzano tomatoes
- 1 pint pureed san marzano tomatoes (optional)
- 1 jar/4-6 whole roasted sweet red bell peppers
- 10-15 cloves fresh sliced garlic
- 1.5 whole yellow onions, julienned
- 3-4 large eggs
- 2 tsp smoked spanish paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp sugar (optional)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 6-8 slices of crusty bread, brushed with olive oil
Also See: Basque Piperade With Duck Eggs from Toro Bravo (click for video instructions)
Adapted from Toro Bravo
- Preheat oven to 450º
- Prep chop your onions, garlic and red peppers.
- Sauté the onions and sliced garlic in olive oil on medium high heat until translucent (5-7 minutes).
- Add your spices and “bloom” them out (sauté until you start to smell them)
- Add your can of tomatoes. Break them up a bit with a metal spoon, then add roasted red peppers to the party.
- Add bay leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper
- Turn heat down to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Adjust seasoning if needed.
- Place about 2 cups of the finished product in an oven-proof cast iron pan (a small paella pan works great)
- Make resting places for your eggs with a spoon and crack one egg into each of those spots.(crack into a bowl first to help with pouring and to avoid the risk of a cracked shell falling into the stew)
- Bake for 7-10 minutes, until the egg whites begin to set, but the yolk remains runny.
- Slice and grill bread and serve with dish.