Edible of The Week: Secret Ingredient

I thought I would never tell, but it has brought such good fortune that it begs to be shared…

As it happens, a certain husband and wife like to challenge one another’s culinary skills (among other things). This time it was a chili-off—the man and his meat vs. the woman and her beans n’ veggies. Woman knows she’s got to think out of the bean-box to win this one. Woman harks back to a cooking class she took in a far-off land. Eureka—smoked paprika! Game over.

How it’s made: Ripened peppers are dried and smoked and then stone-ground to a powder consistency.

Claim to Spain: True to its Spanish heritage, smoked paprika has a smoldering taste that “seduces” but never “assaults.”    

Smoking-good health perks: Peppers are known to be amazingly high in vitamin C, about 9 times as much as a tomato. They also contain capsaicin, whose anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects have been shown to lower the risk of cancer. Paprika may help improve blood circulation, and aid digestion by neutralizing stomach acid.

Recipe central: There are so many good uses for smoked paprika but here are a few that I’ve either tried or heard about: Sprinkled on deviled eggs or an egg salad sandwich, or on top of popcorn; to spice up tomato soup; added to chili and other stews; used as a meat rub; mixed into a guac dip; added to a vinaigrette and tossed into a salad.

Here’s one I can’t wait to try: Sauteé 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, and 1 bay leaf in olive oil. Add a little wine vinegar, chopped red onion, and toss with steamed broccoli, cauliflower or sautéed zucchini.

Why don’t you hold your own kitchen competition? No doubt you’ll smoke them.   

Its dark, reddish-orange hue makes paprika a great natural food coloring, once the flavor is removed of course.

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