Espelette pepper, or organic piment d’Espelette, is a mild to medium-hot chilli from the Basque town of Espelette in southwest France. This finely-ground chilli pepper It is named after the French town where it’s grown, just over the border from San Sebastián.
The pepper was introduced from Mexico in the 16th century, but in 2000 was awarded a Designation of Origin (DOP), officially rooting it in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques region in southwest France. And it is now a traditional ingredient in many Basque dishes like pipérade.
Traditionally Espelette pepper, or piment d'Espelette, is used as part of the curing process for Bayonne hams, as well as spicing honey or bread and even adding a kick to hot chocolate or liqueurs. Espelette is also used as the starring ingredient in lots of traditional Basque dishes – from pipérade fish stew to chicken basquaise with piperade.
Organic espelette pepper is also used to add a slightly citrussy, slightly smoky kick to grilled meats, pate, stews and even chocolate desserts.