Smoked Paprika (pimenton), made in Spain from smoked, ground pimento peppers can be found in varying intensities from sweet and mild (dulce) bittersweet medium hot (agridulce) and hot (picante).
Smoked Spanish paprika is nothing like the relatively bland traditional Hungarian paprika you get at the local supermarket. What makes all of these varieties distinct is the deep smoky flavor they share. It enhances so many dishes by giving them a rich, smoky hard to define taste. Once you try it, you’ll never use regular paprika again.
I first bought smoked paprika several years ago to use in a paella. Since then, I’ve sprinkled it on open faced grilled cheese sandwiches and deviled eggs. I’ve used it to impart a smoky flavor to chili, tofu, salad dressing, bean casseroles, hummus and all sorts of cooked meats and vegetables. Try rubbing a chicken with olive oil , sea salt and smoked paprika before roasting it – fabulous. Sprinkle it over buttered noodles or popcorn, corn on the cob, and baked potatoes. I wouldn’t recommend putting it in your coffee, but you can add it to just about anything else!
A while back, I published a shrimp scampi – esque recipe that’s yet another terrific way to utilize smoked paprika. Keep with the Spanish theme by ordering a few bottles of Bodega Hiriart Lágrima Rosado 2010 ($13), a favorite accompaniment to seafood dishes year round in Cigales, the region in which it’s produced. Cigales is northwest of Madrid, and the Cigales wine region has its own D.O. (Denominación de Origen). The Lágrima Rosado, or Rosé, is 70% Tempranillo (called Tinta del País locally), 15% Garnacha (Grenache), and 15% Verdejo, a white wine grape. While most French rosés are made only from red wine grapes, Spanish rosés sometimes have white wine blended in for freshness, acidity, and also to preserve the wines longer. Especially those made in a hotter climate. Many red wines in Castilla and León (the part of Spain where Cigales is) used to be made with a little added white wine for the same reason.