© 2023 WYPR
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Paprika in the Pot

Neil Hinchley/flickr

Somebody once said that paprika was the most mediocre of all spices. What??!! Well Al supposes that if paprika to you is nothing more than the red stuff on a deviled egg, well then fine. But Chef Jerry Pellegrino, warms us not sell this fabulous spice short!

Paprika is nothing more than ground up red peppers, reduced to a powder. This started in the ancient Americas, was brought back to Spain in the 1500's and then eventually spread throughout the world.  Hungary, India and China all have paprika in their cuisines.

Today many would argue that the best paprika still comes from Spain, where it is called "pimeton".  But world-wide, there are several types.


This is your basic, baseline, go-to paprika. It’s not overwhelming in any direction and lends itself well to a variety of recipes. It has a sweet (obviously), peppery flavor without bringing any intense heat.


Also called Spanish paprika or pimenton, smoked paprika is made from peppers that are smoked, dried, and then ground into powder. This spice brings to any dish an earthy complexity that tastes like...well, smoke. But only in the best way. You can also find smoked paprika in mild, medium, or hot varieties.


Now this one here is the one you may have also heard referred to as Hungarian paprika. It’s that star of goulash that you can’t get enough of. This version of paprika has a kick and brings with it a piquant, peppery flavor.

Here are a couple paprika heavy recipes you can try at home.

Mexican Chorizo


2 pounds boneless pork butt (shoulder), cut into 3/4-inch pieces

4 tablespoons crushed Aleppo peppers

4 Tablespoons paprika

1 ½ tablespoons chili powder

10 large cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ cup distilled white vinegar

Place the pork, Aleppo pepper, chili powder, garlic, salt, black pepper, oregano, cumin, cloves, and coriander into a bowl, and lightly toss the pork with the seasonings until thoroughly blended. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate the meat, your meat grinder's head assembly, and grinder hopper for 1 hour. Grind the pork and seasonings using a coarse cutting plate. Return ground meat to refrigerator for 30 minutes. Lightly stir the ground pork with the vinegar until thoroughly mixed. Stuff into hog casings and refrigerate, allowing the flavors to develop overnight. Cook to an internal temperature of 150°F or store in the refrigerator for up to one week and frozen for up to 2 months.

Paella de Barcelona


4 braised pork fore shanks

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
1 Spanish onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
4 cups short grain Spanish rice
8 cups chicken stock, warm
Generous pinch saffron threads, steeped in the warm chicken stock

2 tablespoons smoked paprika
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 cup fresh peas or sweet peas, frozen and thawed

Heat oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the chorizo until they just start to give up some of their red oils, about 5 minutes.  Add the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook them until they become soft and just browning in the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld. Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add the pork shanks in a symmetrical pattern around the pan. Cook for 5 minutes and turn over, pushing the down into the rice. Add the shrimp in a symmetrical pattern around the pan and gently push them into the cooking rice. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking sprinkle the peas over the rice. When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it's perfect. (note: The ideal paella has a toasted rice bottom called socarrat) Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.