Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spice up your life: Paprika

Most of us here in the US only know paprika as the stuff that decorates a summer salad or gives hard boiled eggs some color, but it is one of the most interesting spices IMHO. There are many varieties ranging from mild to hot, just like their fruit of origin the mighty pepper. Essentially paprika is dried fruit and contains some of those wonderful antioxidants as well as a nice dose of Vitamin C. Today in my slow cooker is one of my favorite uses for paprika, goulash. This recipe comes from a friend down under (with some minor adjustments by me to suit my taste) and the key is a really good smoked paprika. Find a local spice shop and buy your smoked paprika, don't bother with the stuff in the grocery store. =)

Smoked Paprika Goulash

Olive oil for saute pan
2 large onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
 2 lbs chuck steak or casserole steak cut into biggish chunks
1 and a half cups of water or beef stock
1 6oz can tomato paste
3 medium tomatoes diced
your favorite short pasta
half cup sour cream (optional)
chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat a splash of oil in a large fry pan. Cook and stir onions until they soften and begin to brown at the edges (8 - 10 min). Add garlic and cook a further minute or two. Transfer mixture to slow cooker.

2. Mix together the paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss the meat cubes in the paprika mixture until evenly coated.

3. Add another splash of oil into the fry pan over medium-high heat. Put half of the meat mixture into the fry pan and cook, stirring occasionally until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer to the slow cooker. Pour a bit of water into the fry pan and scrape the crusty browned bits from the pan; pour the liquid into the slow cooker. This prevents the paprika from burning when you brown the next batch of meat. Add another splash of oil to the fry pan and cook the next batch the same way.

4. Stir the tomato paste and water (or beef stock) into the slow cooker add tomatoes, onion, and beef; cover. Cook on High 4 - 5 hours, or on Low 7 - 9 hours.

5. Serve the goulash over pasta (I mix mine together) with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley.

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