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The Basque Country on the terroir side by chef Pierre Arcé (and his hake kokotxas recipe)


We often remember the Basque Country only the (magnificent) coast which stretches, on the French side, from the beaches of Anglet to the Spanish border. It is forgetting the interior country where soils and traditions shape a certain art of living, far from the ravages of mass tourism. Craftsmen and peasants are the guardians of a production that is as delicious as it is diverse: sheep’s cheese, Pyrenean suckling lamb, Banka trout, Kintoa Basque pig, Itxassou cherry or Espelette pepper.

Pierre Arcé

A cook from father to son for five generations, Pierre Arcé knows these exceptional products inside and out. It is he who serves as our guide in this beautiful book dedicated to his family home, the Hotel-Restaurant Arcé, a veritable institution in the Basque Country, not far from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

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The famous Basque cake

The famous Basque cake

He reveals his recipes but also his encounters with the men who shape these emblematic dishes. For example, Ossau cheese in Saint-Etienne-de-Baïgorry, andouille d’Orthez, ham from the Aldudes valley… The book, with its superb photographs, conveys an irresistible desire to sit at the table from the chef or to prepare his dishes. They have the merit of being easily affordable for a novice cook. Would you like some Basque cake again? With pastry cream or black cherry jam?

The chef’s recipe: khake okotxas, green sauce
(Legata Kokotxak, saltsa berdean)

Coco

Coco

This dish is one of the most popular in the repertoire of Basque cuisine. Allow 30 minutes of preparation and 10 minutes of cooking:

Ingredients for 4 persons :
40 cl of virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and degermed
600 g of Kokotxas (hake cheeks) cleaned of small skins
10 cl of chicken stock
1 bunch of parsley
10 cl of white wine
200 g of cockles

-In an earthenware pan, heat the oil and brown the chopped garlic.
-When it begins to sizzle, arrange the kokotxas, skin facing out.
-Wet with the hot broth and stir continuously with a vigorous back and forth motion to thicken the sauce.
– Chop the slightly damp parsley and squeeze it in a clean tea towel to extract the juice.
-Add the white wine, the parsley juice and the cockles, previously opened and cooked for 5 minutes in a saucepan, covered with a little water. –
-Heat if necessary and serve.

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“Basque. A gastronomic trip between sea and mountain ”, by Pascal Arcé, photographs by Louis-Laurent Grandadam, Editions de La Martinière, € 45.



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