The inspiration for tonights meal was pulled from the Hungarian dish, chicken paprika. We slowly stewed chunks of pork shoulder, pearled barley, collard greens, portobello mushrooms, and mirapois in a chicken stock base seasoned with tons of fresh smoked paprika, ground new-mexican chile, fire-roasted tomatoes, and a bouquet garni. The outcome was an amazingly rich and delicious stew perfect for a chilly winter night.
A: mmm mmm! i don’t know about you, but i was really feeling this meal. it was a great wintry dish – hunks of mega tender pork in a smokey paprika broth with all that barley and collards… and portobellos.. and and and
T: and… sour cream. I loved the smokeyness of this too, and the sour cream was an excellent addition. I got no complaints about this dish… it was some good, hearty stuff. And that pork was so tender and moist. delish.
A: it would be pretty sad if it wasn’t moist… considering that it was in a stew! i would have had to really eff some stuff up to accomplish that!
T: I swear I’ve had dry meat in stew before… and I was quite disappointed when it happened. I don’t know much about the chemistry involved with stewing meats, but apparently there are people out there that screw it up… I’m guessing I would be one of those people if I ever attempted to cook something other than cinnamon toast.
A: whatever. it would be my guess that the people who screw it up are just using cuts of meat that aren’t meant to be braised! such as chicken breasts… or pork tenderloin… or beef tenderloin for that matter. some things just don’t have enough fat marbled throughout them to handle a good stewin’. good stew meats tend to be really tough if you try to quickly cook them too.
T: As long as you’re cooking up a storm I don’t think I’ll need to remember that. Although it’s fantastic trivia in case I’m ever playing trivial pursuit culinary edition. Alrighty, rating… 4.44/5. I loved the smokey flavor of the broth and the use of barley. The meat was fantastic, and I dug the collards, and, of course, the sour cream. I also ate a large portion of the broth with saltine crackers, and that was pretty good too.
A: you know, for once i think i’m going to have to rate this one higher than you did. as far as stews and soups go, i thought it was the bomb diggity…yo. i give it a 4.66/5. the flavors just worked so well and while it was hearty it wasn’t particularly fattening. big flavors without the use of bacon! i know you are all gasping at that. “what!” you say. “amanda didn’t use bacon!?!” i know, it’s crazy, but i didn’t. and it still had a great flavor. it was really all about the quality of the smoked paprika.
T: so not all paprika is created equally, huh? I always thought of paprika as a kind of stock seasoning that didn’t really have a huge effect on the actual flavor… like it was more of a coloring agent. clearly i’m wrong. Would you care to gimme the straight dope?
A: uh? give you the straight dope? dude. i think that would be illegal. but i will tell you a bit about paprika. paprika is basically ground dried peppers. as you know, not all peppers are created equally. some are spicy, some are milder, some are sweeter, some are more bitter. then of course, how they dry the pepper plays a key role as well in how it tastes. these were smoked dry so they were instilled with that delicious smokey flavor before being ground and sold to us. mmmm mmmm. also, the longer that little bottle of ground paprika sits on the shelf the less flavor it’s gonna have, such is the case with all spices as i’m sure you know.
T: Yeah I think I learned about that on an infomercial. My expertise is broad and deep. You see, I pull knowledge from everywhere. I’m the knowledge puller.
A: okay, knowledge puller, wanna pull me some new knowledge?
T: I’m the knowledge puller, not the knowledge pusher! It’s mine all mine!!! hahahahahahahah!!!