Grainy Mustard with Prune and Port
I have a problem. Well, technically I have many problems, but I officially have a problem with my ever expanding spice rack, which groans under new weight every time that I come back from a good shopping extravaganza. I should really be banned from discount ethnic grocery stores – it would be better for all parties considered. I can’t seem to help myself though. When I see interesting and exotic spices, particularly the kind that are sold in gross volumes, big enough that I could reasonably use them as sandbags (you know, for the next time that Canada goes to war – ha!!), well I’m simply smitten. Last week I bought a bag of Irish moss….but I’m going to have to do a sneak attack on Mike with that one, before he pitches a rosary at his dinner and runs in the other direction.
On a recent shop I decided to try and be more….responsible. Contained. Rational. I decided that even if I saw cans of ackee and banana flower, dried qasuri methi, or a strange spiny Asian fruit, I would NOT cave in. I would be strong. I would not impulse buy…no matter how much I wanted to. I was firm and determined. My self control lasted for, oh, T minus 2 minutes, until I saw that bags of mustard seeds were a dollar each.
I bought six.
I swear to god, my Indian soul-spirit is a magpie.
On the plus side, Mike and I are condiment fiends. The door to my fridge is splitting at the seams with chili sauces, chutneys, dressings, and Indian pickles. So what better way to use all of this mustard seed than in, well, mustard? At any given time I have about 6 different types of mustard on hand, and it’s fair to say that the stock gets replenished on an almost upsettingly regular basis. Remember, you’re talking to the girl who can sit down with a book, a cup of tea, a jar of mustard and a spoon.
With our new stash of seeds I made two variations based on my favorite mustards. I’ll talk about the second -and more versatile- one tomorrow (which is the mustard that made me weep tears of ecstasy), but right now it’s all about the sweet and savory.
Kozlik is a Canadian company who makes a delightful balsamic fig and date mustard. I’ve been using it in salad dressings, sauces, and marinades for years, so I decided to take those saccharine, earthy flavors and run with them a little bit. A sweet and lusty Port with earthy, rich prunes soften the poignant heat of grainy mustard in an absolutely elegant and sophisticated way. This is a mustard for slathering over baked Brie, using in marinades for flavorful meats and game, or smearing on crostini with goat cheese and a small snipping of fresh chives. This is a mustard that makes you smirk, ever so slightly, and say, “Yes. I MADE that.”
By the way, before you totally tune out and start watching TSC again (no, you DON’T need more face cream!) here’s something to think about: if you like mustard, you can make it. No, really, you can make it. It’s dead easy, and for about 2 minutes of work and a day of waiting you will reap the rewards of a fabulously flavorful condiment which you can salt or spice to your heart’s desire. No kidding. Don’t be intimidated by mustard because of the Grey Poupon‘s of this world. Go forth and make mustard at home. Seriously. You’ll be glad you did. Psssst….did I mention that there’s a totally different but exceptionally tasty mustard happening again tomorrow? Oh. Okay. Well…there is. Let’s make friends with our seedy compatriot from the condiment shelf.
Grainy Mustard with Prune and Port
Makes approximately 2 cups
- 1/2 cup yellow or white mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- 2/3 cup packed finely chopped prunes *
- 1/2 cup good Port **
- 1 cup sherry vinegar ***
- 1/4 cup water
* Not a fan of prunes? Try using dried figs or dates instead.
**The flavor of the Port that you use will really come through, so spare yourself the heartache of using a Harvey’s Bristol Cream (save that for a night of watching Bridget Jones in your underpants as you pick bits of popcorn out of your hair and eat them) and opt for a relatively good Port. An amber or ruby Port will work better than the tawny lighter Ports which would probably be lost.
*** Ditto for the sherry vinegar. Sure, you can buy a liter of no-name sherry vinegar for about $2. But….but do you really want to do that? I may be a po’chile, but there are certain things that I’ll save my shekels to afford – good quality oils and vinegars (and cheese. One must never forget my glorious friend cheese) are top of that list.
Measure out the mustard seeds, thyme and salt into a glass or non-reactive bowl.
Finely chop the prunes, and then chop them again if you feel the yen. They should be in fine pieces as this will not only help when they rehydrate and soak up all that Port and vinegar, but it also makes the mustard easier to blend. Add the prunes to the mustard and spices.
Pour in the sherry vinegar, water and Port. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and leave it to sit for 24 hours. As the mustard seeds start to plump up and rehydrate, you may want to give them a stir here and there as you walk by…but it’s not compulsory by any means.
After a day of rest, the prunes and mustard seeds will have absorbed most of the liquid and swelled out. If you love mustard as much as I do, you look at that picture and wipe a tear from the corner of your eye.
Scoop the contents into a food processor and pulse the mixture until you’re happy with the texture. If you like a really grainy mustard then this won’t take long. If you like a relatively grainy but still spreadable mustard, it may take a minute or two. For a smooth mustard, well, forget about the food processor and bust out the blender. You’ll lose twice as much finished product trying to scrape it out, and it tears at my heart strings to think about this mustard being pureed, but to each their own.
Pack the mustard into sterilized jars or a container with a tightly sealed lid. The mustard should be refrigerated (unless you process the jars) but will keep for at least 3 weeks.
I found these little glass containers at Dollarama (please don’t judge me for being broke) and instantly fell in love. After all, it’s Easter this weekend and we’ll be doing the tours – why not bring a hostess present of homemade mustard?
Shortly after taking this picture I started licking the spoon. Shameless, I know.
The first thing that I made with our Prune and Port Mustard was a marinade for pork tenderloin. I added some rosemary, marjoram and lavender, followed by some minced garlic and salt. We slathered this onto the pork tenderloins and left it to soak in for an hour before baking at 400ºF for about 22 minutes. Served with braised parsley potatoes and roasted asparagus, this was a spring meal to write home about.
Today I made pork tenderloin in a prune-y, Port-y mustard marinade with herbs de Provence. We also had tender braised fingerling potatoes and crisp-tender roasted asparagus tossed in some smoked salt and truffle oil. It was tasty. Anyway, tomorrow they say it’s going to snow again so maybe we’ll eat stew. Also, I have a red wine stain on my table cloth that won’t come out. Any suggestions? Well, I guess that’s it.
Love you, give a pat to the cats for me.
PS – I’ll bring you two types of mustard if you promise to make ham for Easter. If it’s turkey? No deal.