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A Perfect, No-Fail Sauce for Grilled Meat, Fish, and Vegetables

A recipe for romesco from Chef Christian Page.

Romesco, a red pepper and nut-based sauce from Catalonia, Spain—not to be confused with Romanesco, a type of cauliflower—comes in handy during grilling season. It's usually vermillion in color, and, texturally, falls somewhere between a thick paste and a loose chutney.

Most recipes call for the sauce to be puréed in a blender until smooth, but Short Order chef Christian Page, who serves his romesco atop a charred steak, likes to keep his version loose. He grills raw peppers and onions whole and then chops them before stirring in a garlicky mixed-nut paste. The heat and acidity from a poblano pepper and sherry vinegar make this sauce ideal for steaks, burgers, sausages, fish, and shellfish. Grilled asparagus, leeks, corn, and shishito peppers could also benefit from a dollop or two.

Romesco Sauce
 
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 red onion
1 large ripe tomato
2 red peppers
1 poblano pepper
1 head garlic, roasted
2 slices bread
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup roasted almonds, blanched and peeled
10 hazelnuts
salt and pepper, to taste
 

  1. Heat a charcol grill for at least 30 minutes, or until very hot; alternately, heat a gas grill on high.
  2. Cut off ends of onion and tomato, split each in half and brush all sides with olive oil. Brush peppers in olive oil, just to coat. Grill oiled vegetables until well charred. Rotate vegetables to ensure they are cooked through but not burnt. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly.
  3. Carefully peel the skins off of grilled vegetables and hand chop into a small dice.
  4. Brush bread with olive oil and grill until it is browned on both sides. Remove from heat and allow it to cool completely. Process cooled bread in a food processor with the nuts until you have a very coarse paste.
  5. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and add it and the olive oil and vinegar to the food processor. Process until combined. Remove mixture from food processor and fold into chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Keep mixture chilled until ready to use. Sauce keeps about one week, covered, in refrigerator.

Grillin