We think of paprika as the dark horse of the spice world. It can be sweet, spicy or smoky, and can come from Hungary or Spain. Tell us how you cook with it: do you use it in goulash and paprikash, as part of a spice rub for a roast, or does it figure into a great hors d'oeuvres (no deviled eggs please!)?
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With the chickpeas, you add both the zest and the thyme, which sort of caramelize while the chickpeas cook.
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Chickpeas are dangerous little legumes, and due to their "skin" it's nearly impossible to fully dry them. Thus, there is inevitable, scary splatter. By all means, if you have a splatter screen, use it. But, don't worry -- we promise it's worth it.
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Slicing the garlic not too thinly allows it to cook thoroughly without burning.
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When the "skins" are translucent and beginning to get golden, the chickpeas are ready.
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After all the chickpeas are done, add the garlic to the hot oil.
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The garlic will continue to cook after it's removed from the oil, so be sure to take the slices out before they look perfectly done.
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In goes the smoked paprika. We used a combo of hot and sweet.
When working with meatballs (or meatloaf, or hamburgers) you want to handle the mixture as little as possible, or risk making it tough.
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Merrill's brilliant meatball rolling trick- use wet hands, and they won't stick.
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After forming the balls, it's important to get them into the fridge for at least half an hour. The mixture is quite soft, and needs time to firm up before browning.
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We ended up browning on about 3 sides.
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After the meatballs were finished browning, we added the onions right into the pan, make sure to scrape up all the brown bits.
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We added mushrooms, browned them, and then the pepper and garlic, and sauteed until fragrant. Then, the spices. Hot, sweet, and smoked paprika, dried rosemary, thyme, and marjoram, crushed fennel seeds, and porcini powder. It smelled wonderful.
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Allowing the spices to cook for about a minute causes them to lose the raw edge that you can often taste.
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After deglazing with white wine, we let it cook down to almost dry, concentrating all the flavors, and then added the chicken stock and stewed tomatoes.
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Nestling the meatballs into the sauce.
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Although it wasn't specified to add a lid, we did, as the meatballs are meant to braise.
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When the meatballs were done braising, the finishing step is to add a little sour cream to the sauce. Tempering is key, or all your hard work will be rewarded with a curdled sauce and the crushing disappointment that accompanies it. So, add a spoonful of sauce to the sour cream, and whisk it together. Repeat until the sour cream feels almost warm from the sauce, and pour it in.