Basque pintxos are essentially small tapas or canapés popular in the Basque Country and Navarra. They get their name from the Spanish word for thorn, ‘pincho’, referring to the skewer picks that are used to keep them together. The difference in spelling comes from Basque phonetics, with ‘tx’ being preferred over the Spanish ‘ch.’
However, to compare Basque pintxos to tapas and canapés doesn’t do them justice – everywhere you go in the Basque Country bar counters are piled high with a mouth-watering array of the best local ingredients sumptuously and lovingly composed into teetering towers. In some bars you’ll find cutting-edge trends and molecular gastronomy in miniature, whilst in others you’ll find simpler, classic combinations.
Pintxos are always accompanied by a drink and many people hop from one bar to the next drinking and eating as they go (known as to 'txikitear') which makes pintxos ideal for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve celebration. What's more, pintxos can be delightfully simple to prepare which is perfect for this time of year when there's so much going on.
These olive, anchovy, piquillo skewers can be prepared in just a few minutes and use only store cupboard ingredients - wonderfully salty, but the palate is soothed by the sweet roasted piquillo pepper at the end.
Traditional Basque food is all about simplicity which is why presentation really comes into play in making the pintxos stand out in the festive season. Bamboo skewers are a neutral, elegant way of keeping different ingredients together whilst miniature spoons are perfect for delivery saucy morsels straight into the mouths of your hungry guests!
As the Christmas season approaches we’ll be putting together some ideas for classic Basque pintxos recipes that are straightforward to prepare and assemble in advance:Cod in a rich vizcaina sauce made from choricero peppers
Piquillo peppers stuffed with bonito
Chorizo glazed in membrillo atop a square of manchego chees
Olive anchovy and piquillo skewers
Chorizo cooked in cider
Ingredients Serves: 20
- Drain all the ingredients to remove excess oil.
- Then, simply arrange a strip of pepper, an anchovy and a green olive on each bamboo skewer
After a stage as a chef at a London Michelin-starred restaurant Nicola became obsessed with seeking the best flavours from around the world. She started Sous Chef in 2012, and is always sharing her knowledge of ingredients and writing recipes to showcase those products. Learning from the products, Sous Chef's suppliers and her travels, Nicola has written the majority of the recipes on the Sous Chef website, all of which are big on flavour.