I am the Queen of Crazy Projects. Making something that most people think is absolutely ridiculous brings me great joy. The more involved and preposterous, the more committed I am to figuring it out. Like condiments. For the last few years, I really got into making jams. Working at a farmstand really encouraged that as I’d come home with a lot of excess fruit at the end of the day. Last year it was pickles. A LOT of pickles. I’ve done chutneys, brandied fruit, tomatoes and sauces; you name it. Lately traditional condiments have captured my fascination. My current crush? Mustard. Yep. Mustard. Liquid gold. And just in time for your summer holiday barbeques.
Just the thought of making mustard seems a little ridiculous, doesn’t it? The first reaction is likely … why? The second, if you’re a little nutty like I am, is how? And the final thought usually revolves around all the cool things you can do once you figure it out. Oh, the places we can go!
Right off the bat, let me tell you how easy this is. Shockingly easy. I had no idea. Flipping through the June Grilling issue of Food & Wine Magazine, I came across a recipe. I thought … cool! I can do this. So I did because I’m like that.
So first thing, you have to get your hands on some mustard seeds – yellow and brown if you can find them. The yellow ones are easy to come by, on any spice rack in any grocery store. The brown may require some searching, however, I recommend purchasing them from someone that sells them in bulk – it’ll be cheaper, you can buy just the amount you need (2 Tablespoons each) and they’ll be fresh. I usually buy these kind of things at The Spice House but Whole Foods is a great option too.
Then you soak them overnight in a mixture of vinegar and beer. The original recipe called for a dark beer but I went with a Pale Ale – a little more summer-y, I had it on hand and thought the fruitiness of the hops would play well with the sweet and spicy nature of the finished mustard.
Next, simmer together a little more beer, some honey, brown sugar and a few spices until the sugar is dissolved. Then mix everything in a blender with some dry mustard powder and process until smooth. I have a regular old blender that gave me a chunky, whole grain type mustard but I’ve been told that a VitaMix, that beast of kitchen appliances, will whirl that mixture perfectly smooth. I’ve ground up seed pearls in one of the those things (long story) so I’m not surprised in the least.
And that’s it. Swear to god. Crazy easy. My recipe resulted in a really delicious sweet and spicy mustard that was insanely good on grilled brats. I’m serious – it was fantastic. It’s entirely possible that I’ll stop buying mustard, choosing instead to make my own. (And yes, I realize that sounds like equal parts cool and crazy.) There was definitely a kick – you could play around with the mustard seed quantities if it’s too spicy for you. In fact, play around with all the ingredients!
Just think of the possibilities! Vary the vinegar, the beer or add stuff in for a different flavor. The original recipe called for malt vinegar + dark beer. How about going Asian? Rice vinegar + Sapporo + wasabi powder! Or maybe – red wine vinegar + brown ale + chopped tarragon, dill, etc. What about a fruit mustard? Use a fruit vinegar + Belgian ale + pureed dried cherries. Oh, that one would be good with a stout … wow, there are a lot of directions to go with this.
Think beyond the typical burgers, brats and dogs too – though those are exceptionally good choices. Let me tell you, this stuff makes a kick-ass vinaigrette. Rub a ham with a little zippy concoction and your family will swoon. A schmear on the road trip sandwiches will send the kids in the way back into fits of glee. Dip a pretzel dog into it and achieve nirvana. I think. German potato salad? Mustard grilled chicken? Oh stop. I’ll post some recipes in the coming weeks – good stuff.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: HOT DAMN YES! Try this one immediately. I’m serious. It’s really simple and the satisfaction of saying, “Why yes, I DID make the mustard” at your Fourth of July BBQ is such a crazy wonderful thing to say, you just have to do it. People will look at you in disbelief and erect a shrine in your honor. Mustard God. Say it with me. Mustard. God.
SWEET & SPICY BEER MUSTARD based on the recipe in F&W which originally made A LOT. I cut it down and switched some things around. Makes about 1 ¼ cups
2 Tablespoons black mustard seeds
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
¼ + 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
¾ cup flavorful beer, such as an IPA or something darker, divided
1 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoons ground allspice
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ cup dry ground mustard
1. In a medium bowl, combine all the mustard seeds with the vinegar and ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons of the beer. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 2 Tablespoons beer with the honey, brown sugar, salt, allspice and turmeric and bring to a boil. Set aside and let cool.
3. In a blender, Combine this cooled mixture with the soaked mustard seeds and all the soaking liquid and the dry mustard.
4. Puree until smooth.
5. Transfer the mustard to a glass jar. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving. Mustard can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.