Episode 205: Secret Steaks

Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

The most famous sauce in Catalonia, romesco is a gutsy puree of tomatoes, garlic, and fresh and dried chiles bound together with two characteristic Catalan thickeners: toasted bread and ground almonds. Traditionally, these ingredients would be roasted in the oven to intensify their flavor before pureeing. That set me thinking about an even better way to heighten the flavor: charring the vegetables and bread on the grill. Catalans would use a dried chile called anorra. These are difficult to find in the U.S., but a Mexican ancho or pasilla chile makes a good substitute. (In a worst-case scenario, you could use one to two tablespoons of chile powder.) Romesco is traditionally served with grilled seafoods, chicken, and meats. I like to eat it straight off the spoon.

Try this Romesco Sauce with: Pork Secreto with Romesco Sauce.


More Recipes from Episode 205: Secret Steaks


Romesco Sauce

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Makes about 2 cups
  • Equipment: Vegetable grate (optional)


  • 1 ancho or pasilla chile
  • ¼ cup blanched almonds
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and skewered on toothpicks
  • 1 slice country-style white bread
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Recipe Steps

1: Soak the dried chile in 1 cup hot water until soft and pliant, 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and blot dry.

2: Meanwhile, set up a grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high.

3: Place the almonds in a dry cast-iron skillet and roast on the grill until toasted and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes, shaking the pan 2 or 3 times to ensure even browning.   Transfer to a mixing bowl.   Roast the hazelnuts the same way.   Transfer to a plate to cool. Rub the hazelnuts between the palms of your hands to remove the skins (don’t worry about removing every last bit) and add them to the almonds.

4: Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, and garlic on the grill and cook until darkly browned, turning to ensure even browning, 4 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the vegetable. Transfer the vegetables to a plate and let cool.

5: Grill or toast the bread slice until darkly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Break the toast into several pieces, transfer to a food processor, add the nuts, and process to a fine powder.  Add the vegetables and parsley and process to a coarse paste. Add the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper and process to mix. The romesco should be thick but pourable; if too thick, add a little of the chile soaking liquid.  Correct the seasoning, adding salt, sugar, or vinegar; the romesco should be highly seasoned. It tastes best served within a few hours of making.

6: It will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for at least 3 days.

Recipe Tips

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Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2019 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein.