Piment d’Espelette has many uses. I sprinkle it on sliced tomato salads, make Basque mayonaise for tomato sandwiches and pleasant spice to soups. Espellete was my grandfather’s home town in Pays Basque!
I have to admit, i use this in way more dishes and recipes than I am probably even supposed to! The flavor is mild and almost TOO subtle, but it's there and delicious. It goes in dressings, on top of over medium eggs, on meats, you name it. I love it so much i bought a second one as a gift for my foodie friend! She loves it!
Piment d'Espelette is a unique product, subject to Appellation d'Origine Controlee regulation, which extends the right to use the AOC label only to ten communes in the Basque country in France. The peppers are grown, harvested, dried and prepared subject to strict regulation and, like wine, cheese and other products subject to the AOC, must display the typical "organoleptic characteristics" of the traditionally produced spice. Piment d'Espelette is never strong or screamingly hot, so if you are expecting something akin to Scotch Bonnet peppers, or the acrid bite of "chili pepper" blends, look elsewhere. However, it does have a sweet and smoky aroma, akin to good pimenton or paprika, along with a distinct peppery 'bite' at the finish.
Piment d'Espelette is never inexpensive and it is usually not easy to find in the US, so having this source available is great - the Piment from Market Hall is fresh fresh fresh. I use it in almost everything -- for example, peel and slice cucumbers, toss with a good quantity of freshly squeezed lemon juice (Meyer lemons preferred), a pinch of sugar, a healthy dose of fleur de sel or kosher salt, and a generous pinch of Piment d'Espelette. Let the cukes sit in a colander for up to half an hour, tossing occasionally, then serve. Trust me, you will not fail to notice the presence of the piment. It's also great and sufficiently assertive to dress a good sized composed salad with just a pinch in a basic vinaigrette dressing of lemon juice, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard and grapeseed, walnut or olive oil. Wonderful sprinkled lightly over a platter of carved "rotisserie chicken" from the grocery. Adds a nice edge to rillettes or a terrine. Adds pop to scrambled eggs, quiche... just think of anything you'd like to lend a subtly sweet, smoky and hot red peppery note, and give it a healthy pinch of Piment d'Espelette.
This is now a staple in my kitchen and it sits on the table in our house beside a pepper mill and a dish of fleur de sel or Maldon salt - indispensible.
Gives a warm depth of flavor with a nice little kick, spicy but subtle. Great on eggs, meats, poultry, creamy salads, you name it. A must have in my pantry.