JEFF TIEDEMAN: Kick it up a notchHomemade mustard gets its zing from hot peppers.
What’s the perfect condiment?
If you asked that question to a dozen people, it’s possible you could get 12 different answers. For most, though, I think it depends on the food.
I’m a fairly regular user of condiments, with ketchup probably rating No. 1 in my book. There are a lot of foods that I wouldn’t think of eating without ketchup, including french fries, hot dogs and hamburgers. But mustard would be a very close second.
I’ve long been a fan of mustard. When hunting season rolls around, I recall fondly how Dad used to make liver sausage sandwiches for our lunch that we would eat in the duck blind. One slice of the bread almost always was slathered with mustard. On some of the colder days, I liked to dunk my sandwich in a cup of hot coffee. I was reminded of this by my brother, Kevin, who recently was visiting from Colorado. He still does the dip.
As I got older, my taste in mustard became a bit more diverse. After my first taste of Dijon (it probably was Grey Poupon on either fish or chicken), I realized that there was another dimension to mustard beyond the familiar American or yellow ballpark type such as the one made famous by French’s.
I started trying other varieties like whole-grain, also known as “country-style” or “coarse-grain” mustard, which is perfect fare for lamb and chicken dishes, either added to the marinade or stirred into the pan drippings for gravy. Another favorite became brown or deli-style mustard, such as Plochman’s, which is great on deli sandwiches and bratwurst.
Over the years, I’ve given it some thought about making my own mustard. And I came real close a few years ago, when a friend gave me a couple of bags of dried mustard from a local spice company.
But it wasn’t until last winter — when I swapped neighbor Gary Brundin a quart of homemade sauerkraut for a pint of spicy mustard that he had made using an old family recipe — that I seriously considered trying my hand at it.
And this spring, with the specific intent of making some of the mustard, I bought four Hungarian wax pepper plants. The peppers are the key ingredient in a recipe that is in a cookbook that Gary’s mom and dad, Mona and Don Brundin, put together for their kids and grandkids several years ago. The recipe also calls for yellow mustard, sugar, apple cider vinegar and a little salt.
This past Saturday, I harvested the peppers, which hadn’t yet been touched by below-freezing temperatures (even though we’re almost a week into October and well beyond the average date of the first frost), and proceeded to make a batch of mustard.
To say it was a hit would be an understatement. Therese, who isn’t much for things hot and spicy, liked it a lot, as did my granddaughter, Naomi, who was visiting from Cincinnati. They helped me polish off a small bowl of the zingy mustard with some sourdough pretzels.
I’m thinking the mustard would be perfect to combine with some homemade apricot jam that we made earlier this summer in a glaze for chicken, pheasant or pork on the grill.
Heck, I bet it even would be good on a liver sausage sandwich.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.