May 25, 2014
What also happened, and which you are not seeing because, well, I didn’t take a photo of it, was the first grilled hamburger of the summer (appropriate for Memorial Day weekend), accompanied by a healthy smear of this, plus a healthy smear of homemade Comeback Sauce, plus a slice of tomato from the farmers’ market, plus fresh lettuce from the farmers’ market, plus baked beans, plus potato skins.
May it suffice to say that a home-grilled burger made with organic, grass-fed beef, already one of the finest inventions known to modern man, is enhanced even further with homemade mustard and homemade comeback sauce. I made do with a slice of fresh tomato since, although I’d smoked the tomatoes for smoked tomato jam, they’re still residing in a Gladware tub in my fridge awaiting my getting ambitious. Perhaps today.
I also may not be too impressed with it, since it didn’t look like my wood chips in my smoker box smoked very much, as they are still mostly uncharred. Perhaps I have to start them out hotter, then tamp the heat back down. I’ll figure this out eventually. Hopefully tomorrow, as I plan to barbecue some chicken.
But the burger was unharmed addition of fresh produce from the Farmers’ Market, which is starting to have a bit more than greens and baked goods (although the Amish cinnamon rolls are a thing of beauty, and at $5 for a plateful, one of the best bargains out there). This week, in addition to lettuce and tomatoes, I picked up some new potatoes, which were exceptional, and some snow peas. In the coming weeks, we ought to start seeing green beans and squash in addition to the cucumbers that are already there.
But back to the mustard. I have always loved gourmet, flavored mustards — honey mustard, spicy German mustard, horseradish mustard, hot mustard, you name it. But when I tasted the spicy beer mustard my friends at the Superior Bathhouse, Brewery and Distillery serve, I fell in love all over again.
It’s spicy, but it’s smooth. It’s complex. It pairs like a dream with the brats they poach in beer, and with the beef pastrami they get from Petit Jean Meats, that I am SO going to order one of these days. And when I told my friend Rose I wanted a jar of it and the recipe for my birthday, she was kind enough to tell me, in general, how they make it.
I was astounded at how simple making mustard is.
I went out and bought hefty quantities — probably close to a full cup each — of both black and white mustard seeds at the bulk store. I had cider vinegar, and I had beer — the other two ingredients I needed for Stage 1. I came home to begin the process, which involves:
- Dump the seeds in a quart jar.
- Add cup of beer, and a cup of cider vinegar, to the jar. Screw the top on.
- Go away.
By the next day, you will find your seeds have plumped up to almost twice their original volume. (This is why you used a quart jar to begin with.) The liquid level is also by now sitting an inch or so below the top-most seeds, so top it off with some more vinegar. Go away again.
Let it sit for three or four days, or a week, or however long you can stand to wait. Then dump the whole thing in your blender with a half-cup of brown sugar, and blend it. Unless you have an industrial-strength VitaMix, you would do well to do this in two batches. I have a fairly heavy duty Cuisinart, and it filled it up and gave it a run for its money.
You may need to add a little liquid at this point. Beer is fine. Water is fine. Vinegar is fine. Some other flavor element would be fine (I can’t wait to try bourbon or brandy).
Do NOT eat the mustard at this point. It will be bitter, and you will be PO’d. Let it sit, at least overnight, preferably another day or two, to mellow.
Honey. This stuff is to die for. It’s spicy, hot without being peppery. Complex. There’s a note of horseradish in it, although I put no horseradish in it. It’s….the same kind of heat as horseradish, if that makes any sense. The same kind of heat as ginger. A vegetal heat, that’s not fiery.
It was not at all sweet at that level of brown sugar. The sugar serves as a mellowing agent, one of the several Interwebs postings about mustard-making that I read told me.
If one wants to make flavored mustards, one can use more of the yellow mustard seeds, which are milder. The black ones are the ones that pack the real punch. According to the Interwebs, you can use any liquid you wish — vinegar, wine beer, water. The vinegar, though, does serve as a preservative.
I have about six ideas on flavoring mustards I want to try. Ginger mustard made with sake, anyone? Bourbon mustard? Coriander mustard? Reisling mustard, to go on your brats in your choucroute garnie?
You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em submit mustard ideas, and I’ll try ’em. You can come help grill burgers as a tasting platform.