Paprika adds more than a red tone or generic “hot” flavor to your dishes; it lends a variety of flavors based on the type you choose. This spice derived from ground, dried red peppers can range from sweet to spicy to smoky, subtle to intense.
California produces paprika, although it has long been produced (and is a hallmark of) the cuisines of European countries such as Spain and Hungary.
Hungarian paprika is typically sold as sweet or hot; and is used in traditional dishes such as goulash and paprikash.
Spain, too, is a big producer of paprika. In this country, the peppers are often smoked, and the result is called pimentón. Pimentón ranges from sweet, to bittersweet, to hot.
Your supermarket may only carry run-of-the mill, mild paprika, but it’s worth seeking out a flavorful and intense paprika or pimentón online or at a local specialty market. Pimentón, in particular, lends a distinctive smoky taste which can stand in for the flavors imparted by outdoor cooking, even when you can’t cook outdoors– say, on a cold day in early February.
Tonight, I used two types of paprika– mild, produced in California, as well as a nice smoked pimenton from Spain, to produce a spice rub for pulled pork. (Spice rub recipe below.) I trimmed a pork shoulder and then worked the rub into it; the pork received a brief sear in a hot pan with a bit of olive oil, and then into the slow cooker it went. (With some other ingredients, of course… water, some nice apple cider vinegar, some prepared mustard and Louisiana hot sauce, some onions and tomatoes sauteed with a bit more salt and brown sugar…). Then I made some Venezuelan arepas (working three cheeses– goat, feta, and cheddar– into the dough), and served them with the pulled pork and some baby kale (lots of varieties available at the farmer’s market this morning), sauteed with garlic. I recommend this; all of this.
Spice Rub for Winter Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tablespoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon Hot Paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon Sweet Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- Stir all ingredients in a bowl to combine. Makes enough rub for approximately three pounds of pork shoulder, trimmed.