The Case for Hot Pimentón

Smoked paprika transforms a Spanish garlic soup

5th May 2010

20100505 pc pimenton

In today's Dinner Tonight column (the post will be up later this afternoon) I walk through a very simple garlic soup recipe from Mario Batali's Spain: A Culinary Road Trip . It's the kind of a soup I adore, being nothing more than a few cloves of garlic, good chicken stock, and a few pieces of stale bread. The one wild card is hot pimentón, which is a Spanish smoked paprika .

I didn't have any on the shelf, and in my haste, I almost just substituted some regular old paprika to get things moving. But something stopped me this time, and made me seek out a tin of it from Whole Foods.

For the life of me, I can't tell you what paprika tastes or smells like. I know it's red. I dutifuly have a bottle on the shelf, and use it in all manner of recipes, but I've never actually sought a way to get more paprika in my life. Lately, I've been wondering whether it is just dyed dust. Why else would it taste like nothing?

But hot pimentón, my god. It fills your nostrils with a robust chile aroma, and lingers heavily for minutes afterwards. It's warming and inviting, and just a bit hot. It's like the best chile blend I've ever encountered.

It was put to excellent use in the garlic soup. But I have a hankering to use more of it. I bet it's good just sprinkled on eggs, and in my mind I have jumped ahead to making my own Spanish chorizo. But I'm also looking for some simpler recipes, so I can really start abusing the stuff. Anyone have some ideas to get me started?

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