Grainy Bavarian Mustard
When I was chatting with a friend the other day, she told me that her honeymoon flight had just been booked and they would be landing in Munich. I said, “Oh, really? That’s great! I didn’t know that you were going to Switzerland!!” I am officially living evidence of the failures of our school system. Sigh.
So geography isn’t my thing. That’s okay, right? I mean, who DOESN’T need a friend in their life who thought that San Francisco was a state, or that ‘Djibouti’ referred to an Australian tribal instrument, and still doesn’t really believe that Kyrgyzstan is an actual country? One thing that I DO know, however, is how much I enjoy making, eating, and serving food from many different nations. I couldn’t cite annual rainfall or average population growth, but even so the paltry list of facts I know about Djibouti involve things like Fahfah soup, lentils with cinnamon and smoked meat, and maybe some banana fritters to hold body and soul together. Similarly, I may not be able to point to Munich on a map (I’m so very, very ashamed of myself right now) but I could talk your ear off for hours about spaetzle, sauerbrauten and gugelhupf. If there was such a thing as Culinary Geography back when I was in school, I may have chosen a different major.
Flavorful condiments are an integral part of multi-cultural cooking, and I have a holy-hell collection of vinegars, sauces and blends in the arsenal of my pantry. One of the key players that I go back to again and again is my old friend mustard. Mustard is so simple to make and yet utterly complex in flavor, and it lends itself well to anything from sauces to marinades, and sandwich spreads to stuffings.
When I think about my preferred variety of mustard, it’s just impossible for me to play favorites. I love both grainy mustard and smooth. Dijon, honey, dill, spicy Chinese mustard, yellow mustard – there is enough room in my heart for each and every mustard of the world. If it was possible to lead a healthy existence as a Mustardarian, I would take up the challenge with open arms. Oh yes, walking by street vendors would be a hazard as hotdogs threw themselves at me in an orgiastic display of ballpark glee. Salami would quiver with the anticipation of my arrival, and pork tenderloin would frantically wave it’s arm in the air yelling, “PICK ME!! PICK ME!!!!”
The best thing about mustard is that it’s almost embarrassingly easy to make at home. And yet, when you serve your Friday night charcuterie platter with home pickled cornichons and a jar of your very own mustard (snapshot of Tina’s life, Part 1), well, you’ll be a star. Why? Because people just don’t MAKE their own mustard these days, which is mind boggling considering that it takes next to no active working time, and the rewards are so very, very worth the (minimal) effort.
Earlier this week when I set out on a mustard-making mission, I had two very different visions:
1. Make a sweet and savory mustard that could be paired with roasted game or in a vinaigrette over bitter greens. We did that.
2. Make a mustard that Mike could put on the sandwiches that he eats when he gets home before me – the ones that he thinks I don’t know about.
Pssst – this mustard is #2.
This is the mustard that made Mike mist up, and gaze at me with a look full of unfalteringly loyal devotion as he said, “I. Love. Your. Mustard.” Any mustard that makes a grown man forget how wretched you are for making him throw out his vast collection of Simpsons paraphernalia – well that’s a good mustard in my books. This is also the mustard that had me sitting for half an hour, slowly licking it off a spoon, grain by grain. Some women like chocolate, but we all have our own weaknesses, don’t we?
Grainy Bavarian Mustard
Makes approximately 2 cups
- 1/2 cup yellow or white mustard seeds
- 1/3 cup brown mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup brown sugar *
- 2 tbsp mustard powder
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp turmeric **
- 1.5 tsp garlic salt
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt (or to taste) ***
- 1 tsp dry tarragon
- 1 cup Bavarian ale ****
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
* You’re right, I missed that in the picture. But considering the laundry list of spices that I fit in, I am officially pleading the “lack of picture space” excuse, rather than the “oops…that wasn’t on the list of the two things I was supposed to remember today.”
**If you think that turmeric is only for curries, well, guess again. It’s one of the chief ingredients used to give yellow mustard that vibrant hue.
*** Mike loves a super salty mustard. I would prefer not to have hypertension before I hit 30. As a result, this is kind of an in-between. The total amount of salt will vary according to how salty your garlic salt is (I promise to only say ‘salt’ one more time in this sentence), so you may want to start with 1 tsp of salt and add more after the mustard is ground, if you feel that it needs it. I did. Hypertension be damned.
**** I chose Leffe Brune, which is a Belgian dark ale. And yes, I did say a ‘Bavarian’ ale, but considering that apparently I didn’t know where Munich was, I don’t think you would expect much more from me.
Measure the mustard seeds, spices and salt into a medium non-reactive glass or ceramic bowl.
Pour in the beer! The best part about this is that you’re only using 1 cup of beer. Since the rest of that bottle obviously has to be drunk, what of it only being 10 am? Huh? Drinking that beer is an effort towards sustainability and responsible consumption. I say so.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it be for 24 hours. You can tuck it in the fridge if you really feel a yen, but room temperature is just fine as well.
Scoop the mustard mixture into the bowl of a blender or food processor (my preference is for the food processor because it’s so much easier to scrape all the good stuff out) and pulse or puree it until you have a texture that you’re happy with.
The mustard seeds will have absorbed a lot of the liquid as they rehydrated over night. I like grainy mustard that’s thick and spreadable, which this one will be. If you like your mustard a bit thinner you can add a tablespoon or two more beer (had to open another bottle? Oh, such a shame….) as you mix it, until you’ve reached a desirable consistency.
Pack the mustard into sterilized airtight glass jars.
Just like the Grainy Mustard with Prune and Port, I packed up a bit of that sumpin’ sumpin’ into wee pinched-cheek glass jars to bring as hostess gifts during our travels this long weekend. Nothing says loving like home made mustards.
After packing up the two mustards, I wandered upstairs with my two spoons and proffered them to Mike. He licked the prune and port mustard, cocked his head, and nodded appreciatively. He licked the grainy Bavarian style mustard and belted out, “CAN WE HAVE SAUSAGES TOMORROW?! BECAUSE THIS WOULD BE SO GOOD WITH SAUSAGES – OR SANDWICHES – OR CAN WE HAVE SAUSAGES (or sandwiches) TOMORROW??!”
To please my honey-bum, I defrosted what was left of our Lean Hungarian Spiced Beef Sausages and served them up with a rustic buttermilk chive smashed potato and a red cabbage and apple slaw in a honeyed dil vinaigrette. The gigantic dollop of mustard, of course, was compulsory.
You know how the Cheshire Cat first appears with his mysterious floating grin? When I look at that picture (below) for some reason I see a blind walrus..with meat whiskers, which sounds far dirtier than I mean it to be. Okay, just focus on the mustard nose….I would totally fail a culinary Rorschach.