Janine Gilbertson's Granite KItchen -- From Hungary with a kick: Paprika

By JANINE GILBERTSON April 18. 2017 10:53PM
Hot or sweet, paprika lends bright flavor — and bright color — to many dishes. As with most spices, it's best when it's fresh. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

I have a friend who recently visited Budapest and brought me back some Hungarian paprika. The package contained a sweet version as well as a hot version. I couldn’t wait to try them both.

Paprika is big in Hungary. The spice is made from dried and ground red peppers, which can range from hot to sweet. Its bright red color makes it a great choice as a garnish sprinkled over many dishes, such as deviled eggs, while its pungent flavor works well with dishes both sweet and savory.

Paprika is the key spice in Hungarian goulash, a beef stew-like dish made with tomatoes and typically served with potatoes or over egg noodles. Since I had some fresh, straight-from-Budapest paprika on hand, I decided to revisit my old goulash recipe and see if it tasted better with fresh spices.

To make a great goulash, you have to give the meat time to simmer and stew. 

I decided to use mostly sweet paprika in the dish, with just a pinch of the hot version for a little kick. That strategy worked out well; hot and spicy foods aren’t popular with my kids, but they didn’t seem to mind the added heat since the goulash was garnished with a little sour cream, which balanced out the flavor.

Paprika pairs well with potatoes, so a little sweet paprika added to a classic dish of oven roasted potatoes works well and adds a little interest. Also, adding a little paprika kick to the potatoes meant my kids didn’t bother squirting a pile of ketchup on their plates to add more flavor.

If you’re looking for a tasty, healthy snack, try seasoning a batch of freshly popped (and still warm) popcorn with some paprika, sea salt and truffle oil. It’s healthier than drizzling butter over it, and it’s so tasty, it could be habit forming.

Classic Hungarian goulash features beef, tomatoes, and of course, paprika. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Beef Goulash

2 lbs beef stew meat

2 medium sweet onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp paprika (sweet or hot)

1/4 cup cold water

2 tbsp flour

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

3/4 cup beef broth

1 tbsp paprika (hot or sweet)

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley, if desired, for garnish

1 lb package of egg noodles, prepared according to package directions

Add the olive oil and garlic to a deep skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Cook for about two minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant.

Add the meat and chopped onion. Cook for about 12 minutes, stirring often, until the meat starts to brown and the onions have softened. 

Add the diced tomatoes, beef broth, salt, pepper and paprika and stir. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the meat is tender. 

Add the water and flour to a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Slowly stir the mixture into the pan, stirring constantly to thicken. 

Serve over prepared egg noodles. Garnish with sour cream and parsley as desired.

Paprika and potatoes go well together. Thinly sliced Russet wedges are tossed with oil, salt, pepper and hot or sweet paprika before being roasted. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Oven Roasted Paprika Potatoes

4 Russet potatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp paprika (hot or sweet)

Preheat oven to 425. Slice raw potatoes the long way into wedges about 1/4 inch at their thickest. Place the wedges in a large bowl and cover with water. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels. Return to a clean bowl. 

Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes, then sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Toss to coat, then spread in one layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. 

Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, then remove from oven and turn the potatoes over. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes have crisped and turned golden brown.

Hot popcorn tossed with sea salt, paprika and truffle oil is an Old World take on a favorite snack. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Sea Salt and Paprika Popcorn

6 cups freshly popped popcorn

1 1/2 tbsp truffle oil

1 tbsp paprika (sweet or hot)

1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Add the popcorn to a large bowl. Drizzle with truffle oil and toss to coat.

Sprinkle the paprika, pepper and salt over the popcorn, then toss well to combine.


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