I can not remember a time in my life when the word "paprika" was not virtually synonymous in my kitchen with the tall red-and-white tins, imported from Hungary, containing Pride of Szeged brand paprika. Both my mother and Maryanne's always had a tin of it in the kitchen - in the refrigerator door in case it "spoiled" before it could all be used - and when we got married, we kept up the tradition. Well, not the part about the refrigerator. There's never any question of our paprika going stale - we use it up far too quickly to worry about that.
Over the years, the Pride of Szeged brand has expanded to include other products, all of which are seemingly packaged in the same sort of traditional tall spice tin (for while other companies, including those in the US, have long since turned to cheap plastic bottles, Pride of Szeged continues to use lithographed spice tins with pretty much the same graphic design that they've always had.) There are rubs for beef, pork, chicken, and fish, as well as something they call "Pisa," which is a pretty damn delightful oregano-heavy Italian seasoning.
Yesterday, I found myself with three racks of ribs and no rub to season them with. Worse, I was short a few ingredients in the pantry, so I couldn't just make up a batch from scratch. Maryanne, Lynnafred, and I headed out to the supermarket to pick up what we needed, but those plans were immediately abandoned when we passed down the spice aisle and found a full selection of Pride of Szeged, including Rib Rub. The ingredients looked good and simple (Salt, Paprika, Garlic, Mustard, Sugar, Spices) and although I couldn't bust a tin open and give it a sniff, my lifelong reliance on Pride of Szeged as the House Paprika helped me decide to give it a try.
I rubbed each rack of ribs generously with the spice blend and let it sit for about an hour as I got the smokehouse preheated and ready. When the box had heated up to about 250 F and the smoke generator was pumping out a good stream of hickory smoke, I put the ribs in for the long, slow cooking time that would turn them into tender delicacies. It took about three hours.
I was very happy with the results. The Pride of Szeged Rib Rub is flavorful and enhances the pork without covering up the flavor - a nice mustard flavor, not too spicy despite the paprika, and not too sweet despite the sugar. At first taste, it does seem to be a bit heavy on the salt, but after an application of good barbecue sauce and some crisping time on a hot grill, the saltiness also blends into the overall flavor and comes into balance.
It's fairly economical as well. The five-ounce tin I bought was more than enough to liberally coat all three full racks of ribs with enough left over to do a couple more, for a little less than four dollars. I'm saving the rest to mix with some Bell's poultry seasoning and apply to a bone-in pork loin roast. I bet it will be awesome.