A simple blog about food, cooking, family, friends and the fun of ultra running. From the eyes of Chef Bill Bailey.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Sweet Taste of Smoked Paprika

Smoked Paprika [pimenton], made in Spain from smoked, ground pimiento peppers and often referred to as simply smoked paprika can be found in varying intensities from sweet and mild (dulce) bittersweet medium hot (agridulce) and hot (picante).
This paprika is not the relatively bland stuff you get at the local supermarket. It's more related to traditional Hungarian paprika.
This prized powder is indispensable for Spanish chorizo sausage, in pork dishes and any number of shrimp dishes and tapas. It adds the absolutely wonderful taste of authenticity to paellas. It is a great flavor for American cuisine, as a seasoning for barbecue pork, kebabs, and rich beef and lamb stews. There is no substitute for its use in authentic Spanish cooking.
With its prominent deep red color that spreads through any dish to which it is added. It has an exciting smoky aroma from the slow oak smoking, and a silky texture from the repeated grinding between stones.
I like to add it to my spice rub or barbecue sauce for pork ribs, or as an accent for my Rusted Root Roast Potatoes.  Anything with shrimp, light stews, sauces, garlic chicken and roasted meats.
I suggest you experiment with this ingredient and make it your own. There are so many ways to use it. One whiff when you open the can and you will imagine a dozen ways to use it.:

Pimenton is often compared with Hungarian paprika (which descended from Spanish pimenton.) It is a powder ground from the Capsicum annum pepper in the case of the sweet variety and the cerasiforme subspecies in the case of the semi-hot product. The peppers are roasted over the hot night fires of pedunculate or holm oak. Cultivation began with the Jerunimos monks from the Yuste Monastery in the 16th century in La Vera region of western Spain.

Luscious red peppers have been produced in the La Vera microclimate of Spain's Extremadura region for centuries. The paprika made from these peppers is the first aromatic seasoning to attain the coveted status of Denomination of Origin (D.O.). Mature peppers are dried and smoked over oak fires and then stone-ground to a fine, powdery consistency. The bittersweet smoked paprika possesses a smoky warmth with a mild bite on the finish.

The best pimenton is made, as it has been for four generations, by the Hernandez family.
The Hernandez family began the manufacture of Pimenton de la Vera at the turn of the century. Today, their "La Dalia" brand smoked Paprika is considered THE smoked paprika by the best chefs.  Don Valeriano Hernandez Martin founded "La Dalia", a company dedicated to the manufacture and distribution of Pimenton and Spices. Thanks to its quality, it quickly established a great name for itself amongst the finest food competitions winning the "Diploma de Honor" at the "Exposicion Internacional Permanente de Barcelona" in 1916 and the Silver Medal in the "Exposicion Iberoamericana de Sevilla" (Latin American Exposition of Sevilla) in 1929 and 1930.
The traditional methods of manufacture and preparation of the product have been passed down from father to son throughout the generations, making this reasonably priced spice one of the most affordable "must have" spices, essential to every gourmet kitchen.

The Many Uses for Smoked Paprika
 Mix with olive oil and rub between the skin and breast of a roast chicken.
 Prepare sensational beef goulash.
 Add to deviled eggs or egg salad sandwich.
 Mix into guacamole dip.
Flavor risotto and top with a rustic mixture of chorizo sausages and tomatoes.
Cook in a little oil to release the flavor and then mix with olive oil and use for marinating feta cheese.
 Add a little sweet smoked paprika to vinaigrette and toss it through a salad.
 Put some thick plain yogurt in a shallow dish, drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle well with bittersweet smoked paprika. Use as a dip.
Quickly fry 2 chopped cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika and a bay leaf in a little extra virgin olive oil. Add a splash of wine vinegar and some chopped red onion and toss it with steamed broccoli, cauliflower or sautéed zucchini.
Slowly fry waxy potatoes, sliced onions and chopped garlic in olive oil and a little sweet smoked paprika.
 Rub skinned boned firm white fish fillets with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of sweet smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the juice of a lemon, dust with flour and fry in hot olive oil until golden.

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