By André de Mendonça
This should be in the Pantheon of World’s Greatest Sauces. Although I lived in Madrid for a year I didn’t discover it until I visited Catalunya where it is revered. The trouble is getting it right first time. Not that it is difficult to make, just that the flavours are so complex and your tongue doesn’t know what to expect so it is hard to get the balance first time around. Traditionally it is made by roasting and peeling peppers, tomatoes and garlic, and using Ñora peppers (impossible to get here). So this is a friendlier version. If you know how to roast and peel peppers or blanche almonds you will not miss out on those sensual culinary experiences. This recipe is for ordinary folk but feel free to do your culinary thing. This doesn’t have to be a spicy sauce but it can be if you like it like that. Goes great with meat, fish, vegetables, sandwiches…
Makes lots so put it in a jar in the fridge.
3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled
100g (a handful) of blanched almonds
30g blanched hazelnuts (optional)
2 slices of good quality bread, cubed
6 sun-dried tomatoes
2 roasted red peppers (from a jar – the supermarkets have them)
1 teaspoon of Spanish paprika (Pimentón de la Vera is best – you can use Hungarian paprika if you must)
1 level teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or chipotle or del árbol – any smokey pepper will do).
A massive glug of extra virgin olive oil
A handful of parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of vinegar (sherry if you have it, or white wine vinegar, or 2 of pomegranate molasses)
Salt and pepper
Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil, gently fry the almonds until they are golden. It will take a few minutes but they will burn in seconds so be watchful. Drain and reserve then do the same with the hazelnuts if using. Fry the garlic gently for a minute but do NOT allow it to take on any colour. Drain and reserve; fry the breaded until golden, drain and reserve.
Blend everything until you get the consistency you want. A food processor is best but it doesn’t really matter what you use. Adjust to the thinness you want with the cooled olive oil and more vinegar and taste. Adjust accordingly. You can use it immediately or put it in the fridge for 24 hours for the taste to mellow. ¡Delicioso!