Smoked paprika gives Kevin Mitchell's classic tomato pie extra depth of flavor

Kevin Mitchell
Chef Kevin Mitchell says the flavor combination of smoked paprika and tomato in this tomato pie takes him back to his grandmother's kitchen.

About the recipe

Chef Kevin Mitchell included this recipe in his 2021 book “Taste the State” written with historian David Shields. The book is a guide to ingredients and recipes that form South Carolina’s unique flavors:

This recipe does not stray too far from traditional recipes. I love the flavor combination of smoked paprika and tomato, and when the gravy is served with fried okra, it takes me back to my grandmother Doris’ kitchen.


4 tablespoons butter (or pan drippings from bacon or lard) 

1 cup finely diced onion 

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1 clove garlic (crushed or grated) 

1 bay leaf (large) 

1 sprig thyme

1-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 cup flour

2 cups tomato sauce (or a 14.5-ounce can)

1 cup vegetable broth (chicken if you like)

2 cups diced tomatoes (or a 14.5-ounce can, or fresh tomatoes)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Salt (to taste)


Melt the butter or drippings in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, black pepper, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and smoked paprika. Sauté until the onions begin to soften—2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the flour and continue to cook the roux, stirring constantly, until both the onions and the flour turn light golden brown—about 3 or 4 minutes. Don't let the flour or onions get too brown. Add the tomato sauce and broth. Combine with a whisk until the sauce comes to a boil. Turn the heat down until the gravy is at a low simmer. Cook until the mixture is smooth and thick—about 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and their juice and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Just before serving, remove the bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley.

More recipes from Kevin Mitchell

Excerpted with permission from Taste the State: South Carolina's Signature Foods, Recipes, and Their Stories by Kevin Mitchell and David S. Shields, published by the University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina, © 2021.