Paprika is the ground bright red powder from sweet and hot dried peppers. It is much milder than cayenne pepper with a characteristic sweetness, and it is a favourite ingredient in European cookery. Hungarian or Spanish, hot or sweet, smoked or unsmoked, these clay-red powders all bring a distinct flavour to the dishes they are added to.
Beef stroganoff with sautéed potatoes
Nothing is so easy, elegant and delicious as a beef stroganoff. James Martin uses the best fillet to make his recipe the height of luxury.
Preparation time : less than 30 mins
Cooking time : 10 mins to 30 mins
Serves : Serves 4
For the beef stroganoff
1 onion, finely sliced
150g/5oz white mushrooms, finely sliced
2 tbsp tomato purée
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp smoked hot paprika
110ml/4fl oz beef stock
500g/1lb 2oz beef fillet, cut into strips
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150ml/5fl oz brandy
200ml/7fl oz soured cream
2 tbsp flatleaf parsley
For the sautéed potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ onion, finely chopped
Heat a frying pan until hot, then add half the butter. When foaming, add the onion and fry for 2–3 minutes, or until just softened.
Add the mushrooms and cook for 1–2 minutes.
Add the tomato purée, mustard and paprika and cook for a further minute.
Add the beef stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3–4 minutes.
Season the beef with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat a separate frying pan and add the remaining butter. When foaming, add the beef and fry for 2–3 minutes on both sides, until browned all over.
Add the brandy and carefully allow to flambé in the pan. (CAUTION: make sure there are no flammable materials above the pan when flaming.)
Add the soured cream to the onion and mushroom mixture and mix well.
When the flames have subsided, add the beef to the soured cream and mushroom mixture and cook for one minute. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the parsley.
For the sautéed potatoes, heat the oil in a frying pan until hot, then add the potatoes and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until tender and golden-brown all over. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the onions. Stir gently to combine.
To serve, place two spoonfuls of the sautéed potatoes onto each plate and spoon equal portions of the beef stroganoff alongside.
Paprika comes in a surprising array of flavours. Varieties that were previously obscure in the UK are becoming more commonly visible on supermarket shelves or in specialist delicattessens.
In Austria and Hungary, paprika is a main flavouring in meat stews such as goulash. Eastern Europeans use it to flavour venison stews and soured cabbage and other vegetable dishes. In Spain and Mexico paprika is used to flavour chorizo salami, which is eaten raw and in fresh chorizo sausages, which are skinned and crumbled into dishes to impart a spicy paprika flavour to the dish. Portuguese cooks use paprika to flavour fish stews and salt cod.
Experiment with the different varieties, using smoked paprika to bring a smoky richness or hot paprika to really attack the tastebuds and catch the imagination of the mouth. Use it to give spicy depth to lamb, chicken and fish dishes or try sprinkling a pinch over the yolk of a fried egg or creamy scrambled eggs.