I have been obsessively pickling lately. Everything from cucumbers to beets to beans to peaches. Originally I thought pickling would be difficult, but it truly is a fun-filled experience and there's nothing more satisfying than seeing your pantry filled with shining jars of food.
I was going through my CSA farm share this week while flipping through my favorite cookbooks for some inspiration and I came across this recipe for what are basically spicy pickles. My family is all about spicy food, so I immediately added this one to my list.
Finally, something to do with the intense amount of pickling cucumbers and dill in my garden!
Not So Cool, Cucumber Pickles
Excerpted from The Flavorful Kitchen Cookbook by Molly and Robert Krause
Flavor Combination: CUCUMBER + JALAPEÑO + VINEGAR
Cucumber pickles are so ubiquitous in American cuisine that you may not even notice one on the plate with your hamburger. In this combination, the cucumber pickle gets attention! There’s the initial crunch of the pickle, quickly finished with the lingering spiciness from the fresh jalapeño. The boost of vinegar is needed to actually make this a pickle. By varying the proportions of these components, you could easily create a spicy vinaigrette for a fresh cucumber salad.
Eat them raw, slice them up and serve with dip, or chop them and throw into salads. For this combination, the cucumber needs to keep its crisp bite to effectively deliver the spicy component of the jalapeño, so we recommend keeping it raw or cooking it gently.
These small green peppers pack a spicy wallop. Use them sparingly raw or jarred to add heat. Roasting jalapeños softens their flavor and texture considerably and allows use in a larger proportion to the cooling cucumber. To sneak a little spicy flavor into a dish, include in your recipe a bit of the liquid from a jar of sliced jalapeños.
Vinegar is a component essential to the pickling process. White vinegar works best for this combination. To tweak it for a vinaigrette, decrease the vinegar and add oil to finely minced cucumber and jalapeños.
Pickles with a Punch
Surprise your kids when you put these spicy spears next to their ham sandwiches.
1 to 2 whole jalapeño peppers (depending on heat preference)
2 medium cucumbers
1 teaspoon (2 g) freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons (36 g) salt
1⁄4 cup (50 g) sugar
1⁄4 cup (16 g) rough-chopped fresh dill
1 clove garlic
1⁄4 cup (4 g) rough-chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons (30 ml) white wine
1 1⁄2 cups (355 ml) white vinegar
2 tablespoons (12 g) pickling spice
2 cups (475 ml) water
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons (10 ml) Sriracha sauce
Slice peppers in half lengthwise and remove inner core and seeds. Cut in half again, so each pepper is in quarters. Set aside.
Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise. Slice each half into thirds lengthwise. Cut each long piece into desired length of spears. Set aside and prepare pickling liquid.
Place pepper quarters and all remaining ingredients (not including the cucumbers) in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add cucumber spears and remove from heat. Allow to come to room temperature. Keep covered in its liquid in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Yield: 24 to 30 pickles
This is a great recipe to prepare mid-summer when fresh cucumbers and peppers are abundant. Support your local farmers’ market or, better yet, grow your own.
The Flavorful Kitchen Cookbook is an indispensable guide to fantastic, unexpected flavor combinations for home cooks. Filled with more than 100 extraordinary combinations, The Flavorful Kitchen Cookbook will make you rethink the way you approach food. Each flavor trio is accompanied by an inspired recipe as an example of how to use it. You'll learn how to cook more innovatively by adding an unexpected note such chili to a traditional flavor combination such as pineapple and mango. You'll cook more intuitively by learning which flavors work together and how to balance different flavor profiles such as sweet, sour, savory, and spicy. You'll get more excitement from cooking as you taste how flavors evolve during the cooking process. Most importantly, you'll get more pleasure out of the flavors and ingredients you use every day.