I am a decent cook. Mom was a decent cook. Gram was a very good cook. (It was her job for 18 years to cook for the elderly at an extended care facility.) I watch lots and lots of Food Network programming and shows with Gorden Ramsey. I am not afraid to try new things and typically throw things together rather than follow recipes. I also tend to shop without a list which means that sometimes, things can fall by the wayside.
Growing up, Mom used to make Chicken Paprikash- a creamy chicken stew with gummy dumplings seasoned with paprika. The paprika she would buy came in a small tin and I remember it having a sweet taste. Nowadays, there are all kinds of paprika available at the supermarket. Sweet, spicy, smoked, Hungarian and Spanish. I don’t know what made me grab a container of the smoked paprika, (probably related to something Bobby Flay was cooking) but boy oh boy, am I glad I did. I first went through an inexpensive jar I found among the spices in the Spanish food aisle. I remember seasoning fish with it and sprinkling it on top of bowls of soup.
And then we ran out. Since I don’t write lists and make up my meals as I go, I forgot to buy another jar until last week. This time I grabbed a more expensive jar from McCormick’s gourmet line and when I opened the lid, I could immediately tell there was a HUGE difference in quality. I used it for the first time sprinkled on the skin side of some chicken thighs I was searing prior to popping them in the oven.
The smell when cooking? OH MY GOODNESS! The taste? Yahoo delicious! Last night I made some chicken soup w/ brown rice. Once again sprinkled the smoked paprika onto the chicken then seared it in olive oil- sprinkled more on each finished bowl. How have I managed to live this long without tasting this spice? I’m willing to bet that there are even better tasting brands out there… I will have to ask my friend Anne, who I know regularly hits the spice shops when visiting Philly and New York.
This single ingredient has inspired me to create a list to be taped inside a cupboard. It is to include tasty things (dishes, individual ingredients) that I don’t want to let fall by the wayside. I mean, have you tried cooking with smoked paprika yet? You’ll see how it inspires you!
Image above courtesy of Mike from Chi-Town and is of his Danitrio Genkai and a Rhodia R Pad.