Sunday, April 7, 2013


A Tale of Two Weeks
How Smoked Paprika, Onion and Garlic Powders Save the World:

Scene 1: A recovering GingerMan wanted something approximating real food, so I hopped to the store after work and picked up chicken, as requested.  Into a pan, salt and pepper only, brown rice on the side.  Yay.  A few days later, he’s moved on, and there’s still plain chicken in the fridge.  A million things to do, and not much effort to expend, as I have no energy at the moment.

Scene 2: A family Holiday Breakfast, what can I do in batches large enough to feed the Pacific Fleet, full of complex flavor which such endeavors sometimes lack, especially when dietary needs must be met?

My Go-To Team: Smoked Paprika, Toasted Onion Powder and Garlic Powder.  They’re like having Cinnamon, Ginger and Nutmeg for baking.  A few things which play well alone, together, then team with others to save your bacon.  And eggs.  And stir-fry, risotto, meatloaf or squash soup.

Reasons to go with Smoked and Toasted: Developed flavors.  The work is done for you, naturally.  The peppers and onions are dried and smoked/ toasted, then ground so they are deep and easy to incorporate into anything.  BONUS POINTS: Ground Chipotle Pepper.  Adds a small to moderate amount of heat depending on the amount used with a huge amount of naturally smokey pepper flavor added to your dish.

The following are two new spins:


2-Large Broiled chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 mayonaise
1/4 greek yogurt
3 Large radishes, diced
3 TB Red Onion, finely diced
2 TB Toasted Sunflower Seeds
2 TB Roasted Peanuts, chopped

1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp Toasted Onion Powder
1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Penzeys Bavarian Seasoning (Crushed Brown Mustard Seed, Rosemary, etc.)
Kosher Salt and Pepper to Taste--The Chicken was already seasoned, and the Seeds, Peanuts, and Paprika all add savoriness so I didn’t add any extra.

1) Cube or Shred the Chicken, your preference, place in medium bowl.  Dice radishes, onion and add to bowl.  

2) In a separate bowl, mix mayo and yogurt.  This is my favored mix, both for this and tuna, BUT you must feel free to fiddle with the mayo/yogurt ratio to achieve your own private Nirvana.  

3) NOW, add the really good stuff--Smoked Paprika, Toasted Onion Powder (yes, from Penzeys, regular White Onion Powder is great too,) and the Bavarian Seasoning.  In lieu of Bavarian, I should think some Poultry Seasoning, a little extra crushed Rosemary (ooo-yum if fresh!), and maybe some dried or prepared mustard should do the trick, but I do love me some Bavarian blend, Bubb.  

4) Add half the dressing and mix lightly, then add half the remaining and the seeds and nuts, mixing lightly again.  

5) Stand back, admiring your creation.  Taste it.  Is it fresh and savory? Can you taste the chicken, but also the fresh crispness of the radish and the toastiness of the spices and peanuts?  Add the rest of the dressing to desired level of creaminess, plate, grab some crackers and try to control yourself.  

6) It is wonderful on it’s own.  It is fabulous on: Wheat bread or Toasted Sourdough, as a sandwich; on toasted rye or pumpernickel points, or a good, crispy cracker such as Triscuits.




So by adding The Three to the Bavarian we come to a piquant, herby flair.  But sometimes you want rich.  Down-home.  Family food. Say, Biscuits and Gravy? The regular recipe is traditionally....light on seasoning, so to achieve ultimate savoriness, I take the Spice Road:

I start, (as we did in Sept 2011 “Good Gavy! And Biscuits!”), with the traditional Sausage Gravy for Biscuits from the Joy of Cooking, pg. 547, calling for 8oz sausage then the standard 2-2-2 Fat-Flour-Dairy ratio to build a classic White Sauce.  


A) This was for Easter Brunch, where a few people couldn’t/ shouldn’t eat pork, so I now regularly sub Turkey Italian Sausage, with Fennel.  


B) You will need the full amount of the fat as Butter, as there will be effectively no fat from the sausage. 

C) You will want to split the types of dairy 80%/20% to achieve creaminess and viscosity.  I’m OCD, your mileage my vary. Other effective Combinations include Half&1/2 + Whole Milk or Whole Milk + 2%, but I really wouldn't reduce fat content below that if your aim is the time-honored super-creamy, thick sauce.  (Weight Watchers, bless their healthy hearts, claim you can make sauce with just flour and skim milk, and as a physics experiment this is true.  The result cannot be described in words.)

Also note, this is triple the published recipe, for family servings:
24oz Turkey Italian Sausage, browned and crumbled
6 TB Butter
6 TB Wondra Superfine Flour
32oz (1qt / 4 cups) Heavy Cream
16oz (1 pint / 2 cups) Whole Milk
2 TB Smoked Paprika (Regular Sweet will, technically, work, but will NOT render the delicious, unctuous smokey flavor)
2 TB Toasted Onion Powder
1-2 TB (3-6 tsp) Garlic Powder--Your preference.  I live 30 miles away from the Garlic Capital of the World, so you can imagine how I roll.
1.5 tsp Kosher Salt-- To start.  I add more at the finish to taste

Follow all directions to construct Sauce, then,



-Salt to taste
-1.5 tsp Ground Black Pepper, see Salt
-Dashes of Hot Pepper Sauce--I say Crystal Hot Sauce, possibly Tabasco Chipotle; and the stated 2 Dashes per 2 cups gravy are, to me, laughably uninspiring.  The Sauce is to add flavor more than heat, but until you're an experienced splasher, dash with wisdom and constraint to be sure Hotness has not overcome the desired Flavor. 

Add Sausage back in, ladle over Biscuits et VOIL`A!  

So put a little Spice in your Nice (enough), or, if you are Jedi Jasmin, Super Jenius, (courtesy of you can add a little Hale 'n' Hearty to your Kale Salad--Have a Party!  

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