From the Spice Cupboard: Smoked Paprika

This spice is the new darling in our kitchen. We've been adding a pinch or three to everything from scrambled eggs to tomato soup, and we think you should too! Are you already a fan of this spice?

Smoked paprika is a Spanish cousin to the more widely used sweet Hungarian paprika. It's made from pimiento peppers that have been dried and smoked over an oak fire, then ground into a fine powder.

You'll sometimes see it called pimenton, smoked pimenton, sweet paprika, Spanish paprika, or any variation of those names, but you can always recognize this spice by its deep red color and powerful smoky aroma. Unless the packaging indicates otherwise, it's not typically a hot spice - in actuality, the spice itself is quite mild and sweet.

The real draw for us is the smoky quality. Even just a little of this spice adds an incredibly seductive smoky flavor and aroma to any dish. Traditionally, it's used in making chorizo sausage and many paella recipes. We also like it in stews, with potatoes, in dry rubs for any meat, and in egg dishes. It would be really fantastic in homemade barbecue sauce.

Honestly, we haven't come across a savory recipe yet that we couldn't imagine sprinkling with a little smoked paprika!

A little goes a long way with this spice and we think the smokiness can sometimes get a little overpowering. When experimenting with it in a new dish, start off with a half teaspoon and work your way up from there.

We've seen this spice in jars at Whole Foods and in the bulk spice bins at our local co-op for $2-$5 per ounce. If you have trouble finding it, you can also order online from a place like Penzeys.

How do you like to use this spice?

Related: Cooking with Tea: Smoky Lapsang Souchong

(Image: Flickr member Foodista Blog licensed under Creative Commons)

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