At Morcilla in Pittsburgh, one of the Best New Restaurant in America 2016, chef Justin Severino uses ordinary Spanish pantry staples to create bold, complex flavors. Inspired to do the same at home, we talked to Severino about how to cook with his favorite ingredients and brands. Find these ingredients online or at any Spanish specialty market.
This rosy pink jelly made from firm Spanish quince is usually served on a slice of Manchego cheese. Its flavor walks the line between sweet and savory—take advantage of its tang by mixing a spoonful into cocktails or condiments.
You’ll see these little fish speared with a toothpick as pintxos or draped over crusty bread and roasted peppers at tapas bars. Unlike traditional salt-packed anchovies, these mild white ones from the Basque region of Spain are pickled in vinegar, then packed in olive oil. Mince and toss them into pasta sauces or salad dressing for a silky mouthfeel.
Spaniards eat these juicy, canned peppers stuffed with cheese as tapas. Don’t mistake these fire roasted peppers for ordinary bell peppers: Their sweet, subtly smoky flavor adds a zing to cold cut sandwiches (hey, muffaletta!) and hearty soups.
This imported pig from La Alberca, Spain has a rich nuttiness and a high price tag. Borrow this tip from Morcilla and, when you’re not snacking on paper-thin slices of this fancy Spanish ham as it’s typically served, save the scraps for enriching croquettes.
The caramel notes from this fortified wine set it apart from cider or rice wine vinegar. Traditionally it’s used to dress a salad or add a bright note to gazpacho. Severino suggests using the lower grade variety to quick pickle green beans; the fancy 25-year-old stuff is ideal for splashing on fresh stone fruit.
Made from peppers slowly dried over an oak fire, the heat is less intense than Hungarian paprika but it’s still unmistakably smoky. The earthy red spice is the most iconic Spanish flavor: It gives chorizo, paella, patatas bravas their deep, warm flavor. Sprinkle it into ground pork or fresh peaches to accent their sweetness.