Paprika: pantry in a can.
One of the challenges of cooking in a temporary kitchen, as I’ve been doing for the past 4 months, is not having access to a pantry full of herbs and spices.
Under normal circumstances my freezer would be well-stocked with frozen herbs from my summer herb garden, and my pantry well-stocked with dried herbs, as well as spices.
If one can only have a few, one must choose carefully.
I chose paprika.
My mother used to sprinkle paprika on potato salad. I remember a neighbor complaining at a picnic because he didn’t like paprika.
‘Don’t be ridiculous’, she said. ‘Paprika doesn’t have any flavor, it just adds a bit of color.’
She was right.
But for the wrong reason.
Sprinkling paprika onto cold foods adds color but little, if any, flavor. It needs to be heated to bring it’s complex flavors alive.
Paprika is a powder made from dried peppers (capsicums). The peppers used can range from mild to searing giving a range of flavors, heat and styles to paprika. Sweet and Hot are the most common versions, but there are 6 different classes of Hungarian paprika, ranging from delicate to hot.
It’s a necessary ingredient in Spanish paella, Hungarian goulash and chorizo.
It’s an indispensable ingredient in my kitchen.
A mere 1/2 teaspoon can add interesting undertones to a simple soup or stew; a tablespoon or two can change a stir-fry from ho-hum to wow!
The key to getting the most flavor is to sauté it briefly in oil.
I often add it directly to the oil in the pan, but, in the Beef Stroganoff, I use it in the coating for the beef.
This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by The Well-Seasoned Cook with the recap on Monday. Weekend Herb Blogging’s new home is at Cook (almost) Anything at least once where you’ll find all of the archives.
Beef Stroganoff over Pasta
10oz (300gr) flank steak or other beef appropriate for stir frying or quick cooking
1 medium onion
4oz (125gr) mushrooms
4 tsp olive oil
1 tbs paprika
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tbs cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in
2 tbs beef stock
1/2 cup (4oz, 125ml) Greek yogurt, plain yogurt or sour cream
1 1/4 cups pasta
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Peel and cut the onion, vertically, into 6ths. Brush any dirt off the mushrooms and slice, trimming off the tough stem ends. Slice the beef on an angle across the grain, then cut the slices into large bite-size pieces. Put flour and paprika into a medium food bag – large enough to easily hold the beef. Mix the flour and paprika, then add the beef. Shake to coat well.
Heat 2 tsp oil in large nonstick skillet and sauté onions and mushrooms until onions are tender. Remove to a plate. Heat remaining 2 tsp oil in same skillet. Add beef and sauté until starting to brown, 3 – 4 minutes. Add beef stock, onions, mushrooms, basil, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce to skillet, stir to combine, cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 – 10 minutes.
Dissolve cornstarch in remaining 2 tbs of beef stock and stir into pan. Continue stirring until quite thick. Remove from heat, add yogurt, mix thoroughly. Put the pasta in large pasta bowl, spoon the Stroganoff over and serve.
Or maybe, you’d prefer Chicken Stroganoff?
Tomorrow – the weekly house update. Come by and see what’s new chez nous.