In the third episode of "Top Chef": Las Vegas, both winning teams use one common ingredient. A very common ingredient, but one that I consider quite special. It's probably sitting on your shelf right now. A container full of swagger and an essential, go-to-bottle for your next company quickfire.
In any form.
I consider it to be in the list of top five things to always have on hand in your pantry.
And as condiments go, its the R rated version to ketchups PG rating. The beer to soda pop. For that matter, alternative music to pop music sex to making out. And the reasons why are pretty simple from a pure flavor standpoint.
Mustards main role is to add acidity, closely followed by spice. Acid in a dish is a flavor that you hardly notice when it's right but desperately miss when it isnt. Where ketchup basks in its simple, one note of sweetness and success, mustard toils in the background. Never getting the press or attention, but confidently showing up in your fridge, day after day. I guess mustard is the offensive line. Or better yet, maybe the infantry is more appropriate for this military-themed challenge.
Last week, Michael Voltaggio, and Kevin Gillespie discussed using it in their braising liquids. And even though its surely the magician and not the wand making the food ultimately delicious, mustard is not a bad wand to grab.
Both teams use pork. A protein where mustard is often seen riding shotgun. Although, mustard, honestly, could care less; it works with everything. Proving this point, we see one team leaning towards an Asian approach and the other at the opposite end of the hemisphere with a traditional Southern barbecue. Mustard is indeed a Colonel in the global army of condiments.
Here is my top five (bottled) pantry ingredients for you to consider in your next Quickfire Challenge. And a recipe for one of Americas all time crowd pleasing condiments.
Honorable mentions: Olive oil, Mayonnaise, truffle oil, fresh liquid smoke,
Agave Nectar Mustard
Mustard, a creamy spicy Dijon or Chinese variety 1/2 cup
Prepared mayonnaise (I like Dukes) 1 1/4 cup
Amber agave nectar 1/4 cup
Fresh ground cinnamon 2 teaspoon
Ground cayenne or chipotle 1/2 teaspoon
Lime juice and zest 1 small lime
Scallions, sliced thin 1/4 cup
Method: Gently mix together and serve on your favorite sandwich, bbq, potato salad, etc
(Photo from Wikimedia commons)
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