Mustard is an often overlooked condiment. Just about everyone has a bottle of French’s stashed away somewhere, but few of us think about it very much.I am not one of those people.
Mustard is an (until now) hidden passion of mine. I grew up in a house where we had many types of mustard for different situations. My parents will still pull out 3 kinds of mustard when they have burgers and dogs on the BBQ. For our family, it was never about the ketchup. (I don’t actually own ketchup.)
I have decided to use this inaugural edition of the newsletter to delve into this subject deeply.
What is Mustard?
Mustard is a tiny seed from a collection of bright yellow plants from Brassica and Sinapis genera. You have probably seen Mustard plants growing at the side of the road and never really noticed. It’s related to broccoli distantly, but please do not hold that against it.
The seeds are harvested, dried, and sometimes otherwise treated (fermenting, pickling, roasting, etc) and added to a base, either oil, vinegar, water, or a combination. Sometimes, the seeds are left whole. This is whole grain mustard. The next level of processing is “grainy” mustard (you will see this on French tables or at delis.) As it gets processed, it becomes closer to the smooth product you have in the back of your fridge.
A lot of fancy ass mustards are made with additional ingredients, such as white wine, shallots, capers, horseradish, fruits (and fruit vinegars.) It’s nice to have a fruity or fancy mustard for when company comes over, or if you just want to eat a good ass salad.
Some historians claim Mustard is the first condiment humans put on their food. Mustard like what we know is here because of the ancient Romans.
Mustard has a lot of dubious medical claims assigned to it, but those claims are usually bullshit. The only entries for Mustard on the Mayo Clinic website are for low fat recipes (well, there’s also a reference to it in the entry on urine color, but I’m trying to keep it classy in here.)
Mustard was so important to King Louis XI, we would not travel without it.
Canada, which produced me, also is one of the top 2 producers of mustard seed in the world.
Mustard rarely goes bad, due to its high acidity, so stock that fridge up with some exciting varieties of mustard!
It is estimated that Prince (RIP) had 18 kinds of mustard in his fridge at all times (the original reporter on this, Heavy Table witnessed it and sketched it out:
Types of Mustard in Prince’s fridge included: “German, Wisconsin, Californian, and Texan brands, plus a raspberry-flavored variety.” (Delicious choices, btw.)
When asked in the follow up whether he was a “Mustard Collector,” Prince replied:
“I don’t collect it, but LOL yeah there’s a lot in there. U gotta love mustard. The raspberry kind is the best. You wouldn’t expect it but that’s how it goes.”
RIP you Mustard lovin’ genius.
I get asked a lot to suggest mustards. There’s only one rule for mustard consumption:
As long as you’re eating mustard, you already won
It’s important to familarize yourself with some types of mustard:
Whole grain: a/k/a crunchy mustard: This is used in fancy applications where you want to see the mustard as much as you want to eat it.
Dijon: This is a sometimes grainy French style of mustard you’ve probably had, because even Subway sells it now.
American Yellow: The stuff in your fridge, and on every arena hot dog. Spread it on Burgs on the grill for “animal style” like at In-n-Out.
Deli Brown: This is the semi-seeded brownish tinged mustard you get on your better smoked meats. God damn, that’s a good style.
Asian Style: This is the sinus treatment/condiment you get at Chinese restaurants. It’s delicious, albeit semi non canonical.
Horseradish Mustard: This is for people who need a jolt in their lives who are already getting lunch at the deli. Good stuff, but have a tissue handy.
Fruit Mustards: These sound weird, but Prince ate it. Are you better than Prince? In absolutely no discernible way. Try the raspberry FOR REAL.
German Style: German style mustards are in one of two categories: Blow your tastebuds off hot or almost cloyingly sweet. Both are delicious, but they are used for different situations. Sweet style is good on brats with sauerkraut. Hot is for sandwiches with Summer sausage.
Flavored Mustard: Fig, caper, dill, shallot, chili, curry, maple. You name it, it comes in a mustard. And they are all good.
A Word on Situational Mustards:
Some mustards are special occasion mustards. They are not for every day, because it’s important to have nice stuff in life to anticipate. Some situational mustards are used only on certain foods (like Oktoberfest mustard, used on Oktoberfest pretzels and sausages.)
Other situational mustards might be for when you have company coming over or someone from a place with different mustards than you visiting. These are teachable mustard moments. Open yourself to learning more.
Here are some good mustards to try:
that’s a good ass Deli Brown mustard
that’s a good ass Whole Grain mustard
That’s a good ass compromise between two distinct styles of German mustards mustard
If your mustard level is low in a bottle, add the rest of the ingredients you need for a vinaigrette and make it in the bottle.
Use mustard as a glue to affix rub to ribs, pork butt or any other BBQ you like.
Add mustard to anything that uses melted cheese: Cheese sauce for broccoli, mac n cheese, Welsh rarebit, you name it. Cheese adds a nice counterpoint to mustard.
Mustard Recipe – Welsh Rarebit (adapted from TheKitchn)
It’s an easy one to remember, but a hard one to forget
4 slices good ass bread (don’t skimp on this)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons mustard of your choice
1/2 cup porter or ale
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 ounces of a different cheese to sprinkle on top of the sauce
Toast the bread until very crispy on both sides. Place a slice of bread on each of the 4 plates.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and mustard and whisk until the flour is no longer raw-tasting, about 1 minute. Whisk in the beer, milk, and Worcestershire and bring to a low simmer, whisking occasionally until smooth. Add the cheese and whisk until completely melted and smooth. Taste and season with salt as needed.
Spoon the sauce evenly over the bread. Top the sauce with a sprinkling of the additional cheese and put under a toaster oven element or in the oven on a tray until golden brown.
Options: add caramelized onions, cooked down mushrooms, pickles, or other beloved garnish after the cheese sauce, but before the topping cheese.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of my newsletter. Now go eat some damned mustard.
Oh, and one last thing…