Spanish smoked paprika

Red peppers at a market

I’m surprised this isn’t a more popular ingredient.  Sometimes called Pimenton de la Vera, it is made from paprika chile peppers that are smoked over oak for several days to weeks and then ground.  It adds a wonderfully delicate smoky flavor without adding any heat.  I love chipotles for their smokiness but sometimes they’re just too hot!  You can get Spanish smoked paprika in medium and hot varieties but the kind most common in the US is the mild.

I consider this a frugal ingredients because it is fairly inexpensive and a little goes a long way.  I don’t think I paid more than $4.00 for a pretty large tin.  I’ve had the same tin in my pantry for at least a year and feel like I use it regularly.  That’s what I call frugal!

I don’t think there are any major health benefits to adding this into a recipe, but there is no salt, sugar, saturated fat, cholesterol or anything else bad for you in there.  The interesting flavor might enable you to cut back on some of the salt and fat in your recipe.

You can find this at many markets.  I’ve also seen it at Cost Plus World Market.  It’s also available online from many sources.

I love this paprika as part of a rub for meats.  It goes great with chicken and pork, but also fish and beef.  I mix it with garlic, black pepper and salt and then rub liberally on to whatever I’m about to grill, broil or bake.

I also use this in vegetable and grain side dishes.  It’s wonderful in a gratin of potatoes.  It also goes well with rice and couscous.  Try adding this to the rice cooker or pot before cooking the rice to end up with a great fragrant side.  Rub ears of corn with lemon or lime and then sprinkle with the paprika and grill.

A little of this paprika can turn a sauce into something really interesting.  Try adding some to mayo or hollandaise to serve with artichokes or fish.  It also pairs especially well with cream sauces, although I hope you don’t eat those too often. 😉  Just adding a bit to softened butter would make a nice spread for homemade bread or hot vegetables.

For more inspiration, I came across this page of tasty-sounding recipes.

The possibilities are endless.  I hope you come up with some good ideas of your own.  If you do come up with a good idea, please post a comment to share with everyone.

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