My favourite ingredient at the moment is smoked paprika. I first tasted it when making a barbecue sauce last year and couldn't believe that I hadn't come across it before; it was warm, smokey and sweet apparently as a result of being dried by smoking using oak wood.
Coming from a family that uses spices extensively, I find common or garden paprika deceptive; it has a beautiful rich colour suggesting a fullness of flavour that it never actually delivers. Conversely smoked paprika has such a strong taste that if not used sparingly will overpower any dish. It is used extensively in Spanish cooking; think about the deep, smokey flavours of patatas bravas or chorizo and you will start to understand how often you have tasted this spice without realising what it was.
The first time I smelt smoked paprika I knew that it was the missing ingredient to my vegetable chili. I hope you enjoy it and if you have never used smoked paprika before I hope I have converted you to the dark and smokey side.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 small onion - chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves garlic - crushed
- 2 bell peppers - chopped (I use two different colours to add colour to the dish)
- 110 grams baby sweetcorn - halved
- 100 grams sugar snap peas
- 1 red chilli (more if you prefer) - finely chopped
- 400 grams canned tomatoes - chopped
- 200 grams refried beans
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- small handful thyme - chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 star anise
- 50 grams pickled jalapenos
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- zest of 1 lime
One or more of the following (we have them all!):
- spring onions - finely chopped
- cheese - grated
- soured cream
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
- Add the onion and the bay leaf to the pan. Stir well and cook until the onion softens.
- Add the garlic and stir again. Leave to cook for a minute or two.
- Add the bell peppers and leave them to cook until they start to soften. This will take in the region of 3-5 minutes.
- Add the sweetcorn and sugar snap peas and chopped chilli and fry for a few more minutes.
- Now add the tomatoes, refried beans, salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, thyme, oregano, star anise, jalapenos, lime juice and lime zest. Stir well.
- Cover the pan and leave to simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.
- Taste the seasoning and adjust if necessary. You can add more chopped chilli at this point.
- Cover the pan and leave to simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Serve hot with rice or jacket potatoes and any of the suggested garnishes.