Remember that red stuff on your (well, not my) mother’s devilled eggs? That’s paprika. At least, that’s what it said on the jar.
But it wasn’t really paprika. It was some bastardized version of the ground sweet red chili spice made famous by Spanish and Hungarian cooks. It was carefully aged in a metal McCormick box in the pantry right above the oven for about 25 years, spilled occasionally and cleaned up and put back in the box, and then sprinkled on the eggs for color, scaring children but not adding any real flavor for adults. The stuff I’d known as paprika is to fresh, smoky paprika what Sunny D is to orange juice. Not the same.
A friend brought me some Pimenton de la Vera, true paprika with a flavor I’d almost describe as . . .foggy, from Spain. I’m just learning to use it, to flavor roasted chicken, season salad dressings, and add depth to soups and braises. I’m a little late, I know.
Last night I purchased some potatoes simply because the package said “no butter needed.” My response to any advertisement that passive-aggresively tells you what NOT to do is of course to do just that thing, so I planned to take them home and douse them with butter. But we had a lactard coming over for dinner, and I’d just made herbed potatoes a week or two before, so I pried open the paprika and started shaking.
My husband happened to walk by just as I was putting them in the oven. “Looks like you bought white potatoes and wished you’d bought red ones,” he said. Always helpful.
Recipe 35 of 365
Look for fresh Spanish or Hungarian paprika in the bulk spice section of a store you think goes through its spices quickly. Sour cream makes an excellent condiment.
TIME: 5 minutes, plus roasting
MAKES: 4 – 6 servings
1 1/2 pounds (1 24-ounce mesh bag) baby Dutch yellow potatoes, or small red potatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon smoky Pimenton de la Vera, or whatever paprika you love or have
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub and halve the potatoes, and arrange them in one layer in a large ovenproof dish. Drizzle the olive oil over them, then season them with the paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to distribute the paprika evenly, so the potatoes are all red.
Roast for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes can be easily pierced through with a small skewer. Serve hot.