Discover the flavours of Northern Spain in New Cookbook BASQUE

‘José’s recipes take us to the very heart of the best Spanish cooking’ – Rick Stein

Tip-toeing on the border between Spain and France, Jose Pizarro takes you on a sensory journey through Spain’s provincial Basque country, where Spanish and French flavours marry in simple yet flavoursome dishes. Guiding you through the region’s fish markets, bustling streets and mountain-framed meadows, the award-winning chef takes inspiration from Basque’s culinary traditions and injects it with his own inventive twists.

Full of hearty meals, such as apple tatin with salted honey ice-cream and sautéed clams with garlic, lemon and parsley, Basque is a celebration of all things comforting and delicious. Accompanied by stunning photography of San Sebastian from photographer Laura Edwards,Basque invites you into the homes and restaurants of arguably one of the world’s most beautiful regions.


Sardines a la plancha


Serves 4

  • 16–20 really fresh sardines
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil for brushing
  • extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle
  • flaky sea salt
  • lemon wedges to serve

Sardines a la plancha are something that Spanish people prefer to eat out and I can agree in someways, as the smell can linger if you don’t have a well-ventilated kitchen! I think they’re definitely worth it, though. You can barbecue them as well, which I love as it gives the flesh a sort of bitter flavour, which is delicious – just add some olive oil and lemon juice for the perfect finish. If you are lucky enough to be in the port at San Sebastián, go to the restaurant Mariñela and enjoy a plate of these beauties – they really know how to cook them.

  • Scale the sardines under cold water using your fingertips to pull and scratch them away. Pat dry, season and brush with olive oil.
  • Heat a barbecue, heavy-based pan or chargrill pan over a high heat. Cook the sardines for a couple of minutes, turning once, until charred and just cooked through.
  • Remove the sardines and serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a scattering of flaky sea salt, a squeeze of lemon and some crusty bread.

Chicken stewed in cider & apples


Serves 6

  • olive oil
  • 1 free-range chicken (1.8–2 kg/4 lb–4½ lb)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and halved
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz) cider
  • 400 ml (13 fl oz) fresh chicken stock
  • 25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 8 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
  • 75 g (2½ oz) sultanas

The Basque Country is feted across Spain, and indeed the world, for its culinary creativity. It has more three Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else, and I can understand why – there are so many local products that you can be inspired by here. My inspiration for this dish, as with many of my recipes, came from seeing the ingredients together. When I see them, I just have to create a plate of food. When we were in Astarbe in a beautiful cider house, I saw the chickens hopping around the apple trees, and that was it!

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F/Gas 3).
  • Heat a layer of oil in a large casserole dish. Season the chicken inside and out and brown all over in the casserole dish. Set aside and put the halved apple inside the cavity.
  • Add the onions to the casserole and fry for 10 minutes to soften.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and add the herbs and cinnamon.
  • Pour in the cider and bubble for a few minutes, then add the stock.
  • Bring to the boil, then cover and transfer to the oven to cook for
  • 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, heat a little oil and the butter and fry the rest of the apples with the sugar until golden and caramelised. Add the sultanas and toss in the buttery juices. Add to the casserole about halfway through the cooking time.
  • Remove the lid of the casserole and turn up the oven to 220°C (430°F/Gas 7). Cook for 10 minutes more to brown the top of the chicken, then serve.


Sautéed clams with garlic, lemon & parsley


Serves 4

  • olive oil
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 lemon, half finely sliced, half juiced
  • 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) fresh palourde clams, cleaned
  • few sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
  • handful of finely chopped flat-leaf
  • parsley

Clams are popular all over the world as they are so versatile. When you are planning to cook for more than a couple of people, this is something that you must consider; ingredients and dishes your friends will love but are also quick prepare, so that you don’t spend the whole time at the stove. You can boil some pasta with this for a really easy lunch, and add some chilli for an extra kick.

  • Heat a little oil in a deep heavy-based stockpot. Fry the garlic and lemon slices for 30 seconds, then increase the heat to high, tip in all the clams and cover with a lid. Cook for 2–3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the clams have all opened (discard any that refuse to open).
  • Add the lemon juice and herbs and serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up the juices.


Hardie Grant Books / April 2016 / RRP $49.99