Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Discovering Paprikas

My paprika discovery today began oh, so innocently with a tweet from the ladies recommending this Paprikash recipe from Epicurious. The kicker for me was that they claimed it both tasted great and the kids loved it.  In typical "me" fashion, I skimmed it, noted I had "most" of the ingredients and decided to give it a try.

I, of course, had only one kind of paprika in my collection, at the time.  It was not the variety recommended.  I forged ahead and added bits of other blends to compensate (my recipe is below). After it was in the crock pot, I read through some of the comments and they vehemently agreed that if you didn't have the Hot Paprika it wasn't going to work.  Sigh. Luckily, there is a spice store fairly nearby so after work while the chicken still simmered I headed to Savory Spice Shop OKC.  To my surprise, there were roughly seven kinds of paprika available, not including all the blends that also had paprika in them.  My, how far my family's spice experience has come.

You see, when I was little I am fairly sure that almost all the family cooks I knew had just one jar of paprika, if any.  That jar was probably labeled "paprika" with no qualifiers.  It likely sat on the shelf in the pantry for, ahem, several years and was used in primarily two dishes - sprinkled on top of deviled eggs at the last moment before serving and in Oklahoma versions of goulash, which probably do not resemble the real thing.  I had largely written paprika off as "for color" at this point and what we were using then probably was.  A bit later on, I learned about smoked paprika through my brother's love for these smoky burgers.  This morning,when I was putting dinner in the crock pot,  I had only a brand new jar of Smoked Spanish Sweet Paprika in my collection. This evening, I have three of the seven kinds Savory Spice offers and realized it is in many of the blends I already owned.

I still wasn't that convinced that it was necessary.  Until, that is, I put the Smoked Spanish Hot Paprika on top of my Paprikash.  The commentors were right.  It made an incredible difference.  The taste was complex, slightly hot, and totally wonderful.  I strongly suggest trying it.  To help all of us learn a bit more, my Mom has agreed to have Paprika as her topic in Spice 101 at Savory Spice OKC this month on Sunday, January 13 at 2pm.  I'm hoping to learn more about the other varieties and what I can do with this newly discovered delight.  Meanwhile, here is the recipe I made, with notes about what I did today before acquiring the Smoked Hot Paprika.  My lesson from all of this is to find some good paprika and give it another try if your current memories of it were like mine.  You may be delightfully surprised!

Chicken Paprikash with Sour Cream - My Variation Based on this recipe from Epicurious 


  • 1 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Smoked Spanish Sweet Paprika (The original recipe used Sweet Paprika).
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Hot Paprika* 
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 3 pounds chicken - Today, a mix of chicken drumsticks and boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup light sour cream
  • 1 T. corn starch

*Today, in place of the Smoked Spanish Hot Paprika - I used 1/2 tsp Lodo Red Adobo, 1 tsp Tomato Powder, and 1/8 tsp Red Pepper Flakes.  Look at blends you have that include paprika.  The most common might be Chili Powder, which could be used here, but would be a bit different taste.

In slow cooker, layer sliced onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, smashed garlic cloves, and both types of paprika (or other mix of  spices if you do not have Hot Smoked Paprika). 

Sprinkle chicken with pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. In medium skillet over moderately high heat, heat butter and oil until hot but not smoking. Add chicken pieces and brown, turning occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker (do not clean pan), adding chicken on top of the existing layers.

In the same skillet over high heat, bring stock to simmer, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Pour over chicken in slow cooker, cover, and cook on low until chicken is tender but not falling off bone, 5 to 6 hours.  

To make the sauce, I strained the juice and discarded the onions.  I blended the cornstarch with a small portion of the juice before adding it to the entire amount to reduce clumping. Finally, I added the sour cream.  Others that like onions more may want to include the onions as is, or puree the sauce with an immersion blender for a better texture. (The original recipe also recommends adding dill to the sauce, but we're not fans so I skipped it for now, but perhaps should be more open minded!)

Serve with rice, noodles or anything that will soak up the delicious sauce.

Notes:  The version my kids had did not have the Hot Smoked Paprika as I was worried it might be too Hot for them, and we only procured it late into the cooking process. I, instead, sprinkled mine on top and don't think it would have been too hot for them. For the record, I don't particularly like "hot" things, and yet loved this.  The heat here is hard to describe and not uncomfortable like I find even moderate amounts of cayenne to be.  All four of us inhaled ever bit of our servings and this dish will definitely be joining our rotation.  I also noticed that the Smitten Kitchen's new cookbook has different kinds of paprika in many of the dishes and am excited to try those next!

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