Monday, June 7, 2010

FALLING IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN




As a chef I am always looking for new flavors and ingredients. Sometimes I fall in love with a familiar ingredient all over again and will spend weeks experimenting with it in new combinations. My new/old favorite ingredient is Pimenton Ahumado. This stuff is quite simply the bomb!

Pimenton Ahumado is smoked Spanish paprika. Made from the highest quality of peppers and smoked over oak, the flavor and aroma of pimenton ahumado is earthy, smoky-sweet and mouth wateringly delicious. I started using smoked paprika many years ago in my first restaurant and may have taken it for granted. It is only after playing with it recently, that I discovered how thrilling this simple ingredient can be to any dish. I cannot find anything that is not improved by this stuff.

Pimenton Ahumado is not your mother’s paprika. The stuff from Hungary will add color to a dish-but really has no flavor and tastes like dust. The good smoky paprika rocks and turns every dish into a flavor packed, mouth exploding experience.

A key ingredient in many Spanish dishes such as paella, chorizo and sofrito, the versatility of the product is amazing. For all of you kosher eaters-the paprika adds a smoky flavor that tastes and smells of burning wood (this is a good thing) and if added to a dish can kind of be mistaken for bacon (ok-it has been a long time since I have eaten bacon, but if you close your eyes-it seems like it might be in there!)

Outside of Spain pimentón ahumado is often referred to as simply "smoked paprika" and can be found in varying intensities from sweet and mild (dulce), medium hot (agridulce), or very hot and spicy (picante). I purchase my pimenton ahumado at the Spice House or online at http://www.thespicehouse.com/

I use the pimenton ahumado in my paella, braised short ribs, roasted chicken, homemade potato chips, BBQ sauce, baked beans …..and more

Add this seasoning to your arsenal and see if you don’t fall in love with this product just as I did.


Spanish Style Lamb Sausage
with Smoky Pepper and Onion Potato Salad


for the lamb

serves 4 as an entrée or 8 as a tapas portion

3 pounds ground lamb
2 egg yolks
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup finely chopped fresh summer savory
1 tablespoon pimenton ahumado (smoked paprika)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Mix all of the above ingredients together in a large bowl. Do not over mix or the lamb will be tough.
2. Portion the lamb mixture into 2 ounce portions. Roll the meat into cylinders. Insert a skewer into the lamb and refrigerate to firm up.
3. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high. Grease the grill with olive oil and brown the skewers on all sides (about 7 minutes).

Smoky Potato Salad

2 red peppers
1 large Spanish onion
3 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
2 tablespoons pimenton ahumado
Pinch of saffron threads
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 pounds new potatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper


1. Process the peppers, onion and garlic in a food processor until finely ground.
2. Heat a large sauté pan lightly coated with olive oil over medium heat and cook the pepper mixture until it is dry. (You want the excess water to cook out of the vegetables and concentrate the flavors. Add the pimenton, saffron and vinegar. Stir to combine and remove from the heat to cool.
3. Boil the potatoes, unpeeled, until a paring knife can piece the potatoes easily. Cut the potatoes into wedges while they are still warm and toss with the vegetable mixture. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Garnish with your best Extra virgin olive oil (my favorite is from Spain)
Serve warm or cold.

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