Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2010 Challenge: Picklin' Dixie

Chefs, cooks, and butchers across America have learned again the beautiful craft of charcurterie. The rediscovery of charcuterie has also birthed a renaissance in the fine art of pickling, relishing, and jamming. Terrines, pates, and rillettes fly out of the country's best kitchens, accompanied by little casseroles of mustard, sour cornichons, fruited jellies, and, of course, pickles. The acidity or sweetness, salty or sour flavor of the accompaniments harmoniously contrasts the richness of the charcuterie.

In the last few months alone, I've eaten pate de campagne at August served with no less than six accouterments. Cochon's spicy pork ribs would not be as satisfying were it not for the crunch and tang of the watermelon rind pickles. At La Petite Grocery the housemade boudin and pickles are a wonderful way to ease into a long lunch. Shoot, even the slimy, pale green po-boy pickles have a place in our cuisine.

Plus, if you choose to make pickles at home, the possibilities of pickle pun-filled commentary is an at an all time low.


Don't worry about pickling. This is not difficult, and there is very little chance of screwing it up. You are doing little more than placing produce in an acidic and salty soak for three months in a fridge. I'm pretty certain you can handle that.

I followed the instructions in Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie. It calls for you to combine white wine vinegar, water, salt, peppercorns, pickling spice (make it yourself or buy), and dill seeds. Boil this mixture for three minutes, pour it over whatever you want to pickle, and let it sit in the fridge for 3 weeks.

You can pickle most about anything, but I started with some pickling cucumbers and watermelon rind. Into a mason jar goes your soon-to-be pickle of choice, a few sprigs of dill, and the liquid. I chose to cut up the rind and the cucumbers into little disks and cubes, but do whatever you like.

Will it work? Check back in three weeks.


Katy said...

It all looks lovely! Let me know how they turn out...I can never wait 3 weeks, when I round the corner of day 12 it's all over.

Anonymous said...

How did it turn out? Would love to try at home this fall and can't wait to hear how your experiment went. Hope they are delicious.