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"gritty" paprika?

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 21 December 2010 at 20:35
recently, i risked my wife's ire and bought a "fancy" can of paprika (which really wasn't that fancy, but it was the pretty much the most exotic brand to be found in the immediate area). let's call this "paprika A" - it was nearly 5$:
 
i used it to make papriak hendl this last sunday and  it was an interesting experience. this was my second attempt at the traditional transylvanian dish - the first went very well, but i was disappointed because i had to use cheaper paprika, which i thought was inferior. here is "paprika B" at 1$:
 
 
i proudly served my second attempt at paprika hendl and waited for the reviews but there was a surprise. everyone said the flavour was really good, but had the same complaint - the sauce had a "gritty" quality. after going though all the ingredients, we determined that could only have been the paprika. i got both brands of paprika to compare them. it seemed that both brands came from the same place (they both came from within 10 miles of each other in new jersey, and both had a very similar aroma tat was rich and deep. brand A seemed like it might ahve been just a little darker in colour, but brand B was ground much finer. all things being essentially equal, it came down to the fact that after doing the "fingertip-taste-test," brand A was definitely gritty, while brand B was powder-fine. the beautiful mrs. tas looked at me with a bit of mirth in her eyes and said soemthing to the effect of, "see, i told you that you didn't need any of that fancy stuff." in this case, i must say that she may have been correct.
 
so my question is: is this grittiness desireable in paprika? because it seemed to me that it really took away from the experience.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 December 2010 at 20:46
Hmm...

Have never experienced grittiness in paprika.  Could it possibly be attributable to one of the other ingredients?  I have to say that I generally do not care for those dollar store type spices like the cheaper one you mentioned.  I buy most of mine from either http://www.mildbills.com or http://www.penzeys.com .  Buy in bulk, store in the freezer, and you will find that the higher quality spices and herbs such as those offered by Mild Bill's or Penzey's are actually less costly than what you can buy at the local market.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 December 2010 at 21:24
i agree about buying in bulk and the savings, andy - trouble is, i've got a wife who takes a different philosophical approach when it comes to shoping!
 
the grittiness was definitely the paprika. the other ingedients (flour, sea salt and ground black pepper) were measured in mere teaspoons, while the paprila content, according to the recipe, was 8 tablespoons. plus, i tried both paprilas on their own. the cheap one was ground very fine, almost like powder, and had no grittiness at all. the more expensive one was more coarsley ground and seemed a bit darker, but in tasting it alone there was definite and unmistakable grittiness. both had nearly identical aroma, which was really darn good - also the actual taste of both was good as well, considering they were not true hungarian paprikas from finer sources. considering that both come from companies 10 miles from each other, i wouldn't be surprised if they came from the same supplier. the only other real difference was that the more expensivce one seemed a bit darker, but not by much.
 
could have simply been a bad batch or lot maybe.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2010 at 04:52
It certainly can be the paprika Ron, especially when it's used in rather large quantities. I remember reading about how the true Hungarian cooks actually make a "paprika cream" and use it rather than the dry spice. I'm going to go look for that article and post it when I find it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2010 at 04:56

I think this addresses the problem quite well Ron


Real Hungarian Beef Stew

Published November 1, 2008.

Stews overloaded with vegetables and sour cream give goulash a bad name. We wanted to set the record straight.

The Problem

The gussied-up versions of Hungarian goulash served in the United States bear little resemblance to the authentic dish. Sour cream has no place in the pot, nor do mushrooms, green peppers, or most herbs. Least welcome of all are ketchup and Worcestershire sauce—standard ingredients in some renditions. More important, how do you infuse intense paprika flavor without creating a stew that’s so gritty, it’s as if you dumped a handful of sand into the pot.

The Goal

Traditional Hungarian goulash is the humblest of stews and we wanted the real deal—a simple dish of tender braised beef packed with paprika flavor.

The Solution

We wanted to keep the focus on the meat and the paprika. To achieve the desired level of spicy intensity, some recipes call for as much as half a cup of paprika per three pounds of meat, but with that much fine spice, the dish took on a gritty, dusty texture. After consulting chefs at a few Hungarian restaurants, we were introduced to paprika cream, a condiment that’s as common in Hungarian cooking as the dried spice. This convenience product was great, but almost impossible to find. Instead, we created our own quick version by pureeing dried paprika with roasted red peppers and a little tomato paste and vinegar. This imparted vibrant paprika flavor without any offensive grittiness. As for the meat, after settling on chuck-eye roast, we bought a whole roast and cut it ourselves into uniform, large pieces to ensure even cooking. Since searing the meat first—normally standard stew protocol—competed with the paprika’s brightness, we referred back to a trend we noticed in the hundreds of goulash recipes gathered during research: Skipping the sear. We tried this, softening the onions in the pot first, adding paprika paste, carrots, and then meat before placing the covered pot in the oven. Sure enough, the onions and meat provided enough liquid to stew the meat and the bits of beef that cooked above the liquid line browned in the hot air. A bit of broth added near the end of cooking thinned out the stewing liquid and made it more saucelike.

list of recipes

Hungarian Beef Stew

Serves 6.   Published November 1, 2008.   From Cook's Illustrated.

Do not substitute hot, half-sharp, or smoked Spanish paprika for the sweet paprika in the stew (see our recommended brands at right), as they will compromise the flavor of the dish. Since paprika is vital to this recipe, it is best to use a fresh container. We prefer chuck-eye roast, but any boneless roast from the chuck will work. Cook the stew in a Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. (Alternatively, to ensure a tight seal, place a sheet of foil over the pot before adding the lid.) The stew can be cooled, covered tightly, and refrigerated for up to 2 days; wait to add the optional sour cream until after reheating. Before reheating, skim the hardened fat from the surface and add enough water to the stew to thin it slightly. Serve the stew over boiled potatoes or egg noodles.


Ingredients

1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) boneless beef chuck-eye roast , trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (see note)

Salt
1/3 cup sweet paprika (see note)
1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers , drained and rinsed (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 teaspoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 large onions , diced small (about 6 cups)
4 large carrots , peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick rounds (about 2 cups)
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef broth , warmed
1/4 cup sour cream (optional; see note)

Ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle meat evenly with 1 teaspoon salt and let stand 15 minutes. Process paprika, roasted peppers, tomato paste, and 2 teaspoons vinegar in food processor until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.

  2. 2. Combine oil, onions, and 1 teaspoon salt in large Dutch oven; cover and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften but have not yet begun to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. (If onions begin to brown, reduce heat to medium-low and stir in 1 tablespoon water.)

  3. 3. Stir in paprika mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions stick to bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. Add beef, carrots, and bay leaf; stir until beef is well coated. Using rubber spatula, scrape down sides of pot. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook until meat is almost tender and surface of liquid is ½ inch below top of meat, 2 to 21/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Remove pot from oven and add enough beef broth so that surface of liquid is ¼ inch from top of meat (beef should not be fully submerged). Return covered pot to oven and continue to cook until fork slips easily in and out of beef, about 30 minutes longer.

  4. 4. Skim fat off surface; stir in remaining teaspoon vinegar and sour cream, if using. Remove bay leaf, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and serve.


Recipe Testing

Skipping the Sear, but Not the Flavor

Most stews begin by browning meat on the stovetop to boost flavor. They also call for lots of added liquid. Our recipe skips the sear and goes into a moderate 325-degree oven. Though this relatively low temperature can’t compare with the sizzling heat of a 500-degree skillet, over time, the dry top layer of meat will reach 300 degrees—the temperature at which the meat begins to brown, forming thousands of new flavor compounds. But only the top of the meat will brown; due to the surrounding liquid, the submerged part of the meat can’t rise above the boiling point of water, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

RISING ABOVE IT ALL
Even at a relatively low oven temperature, our method still triggers browning—but only on the "dry" part of the meat above the liquid.

Recipe Testing

Smooth Spice Solution

The large quantity of paprika in authentic Hungarian goulash can turn it gritty. Here are two solutions.

COMMERCIAL CONVENIENCE
Hard-to-find Hungarian paprika cream is a smooth blend of paprika and red bell peppers.

HOMEMADE SOLUTION
We created our own quick version by pureeing dried paprika with roasted red peppers and a little tomato paste and vinegar.



 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 December 2010 at 06:42
Ron, the grittiness in my experience is definitely the paprika, and I've noted it from several different brands, both low-end and high-end. The key, I think is to experiement with different brands until you find a nice fine smooth one you like and stick to it. The Hungarian one I buy here is around $3 a can and is very good and finely ground- no grittiness at all.
 
Got to agree with Dave's post above, skip the Spanish paprikas for Hungarian dishes, they really skew the flavor.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 December 2010 at 14:18
so reading and thinking some more on this, does it mean that we need to wait until the "simmering"stages for dishes like Borsos Tokány or Paprika Hendl? i was reading in the hungarian section of Time/Life's FOTW series and i saw a few references there to removing the pan/pot/skillet from the heat when adding paprika to onions or seared meat without any liquid. any thoughts?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 December 2010 at 14:43
I add half the paprika as called for in the recipe (paprika hendl) right after caramelizing the onions, but remove the pot from the heat when I do so and let the residual heat mix and "cook" it slightly. Much heat and it will toast the paprika and make it bitter. Apparently that is the proper method to do so, and I can vouch for it since I have ruined a pot or two of hendl back in the day!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 December 2010 at 14:55
sounds good to me. i'd also like to try some of this paprika cream/paste. i know i have seen it before but it looks just as easy (and probably better) to make it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 December 2010 at 15:16
That tube looks pretty much like the tube of Harissa paste I got in the european market for some Morroccan recipes. I still haven't used it yet...I gotta get cracking.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 10:45
My Hungarian visitors gifted me some Paprika Krem and 2 types of Guylas Krem
Paprika Krem is more like tomato paste in texture.
Both types of Guylas Krem is very smooth and extremely salty.
The Csipos is spicy.

I am a wine enthusiast. The more wine I drink, the more enthusiastic I become.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 March 2016 at 19:16
Now that is some neat stuff - I am guessing it might be related to the red pepper paste from Brook's thread on Ottoman Cuisine?
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