Four Condiments for Labor Day Grilling

We've got a whole foods recipe column that appears every month over at the Petoskey News-Review. You can read this article over there, too.

Aioli

Pictured at center left.

Aioli is a classic southern French take on mayonnaise. It’s great on its own as a dipping sauce for grilled sausages, slathered on a bun with pork sliders, or thinned with lemon juice and drizzled over grilled vegetables. Should your Labor Day plans also include eating breakfast, this sauce is also transformative under a poached egg on toast.

Like any simple dish, excellent ingredients will equal excellent results. Use good oil, pasture-raised eggs, and sea salt.

INGREDIENTS

2 or more plump cloves of garlic

½ teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/3 cup light, neutral oil

1/3 cup good olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Have all the ingredients at room temperature before you begin. To blend the sauce, use either a heavy bowl with a whisk, or a food processor. The food processor is simplest, but purists do it by hand. First smash the garlic into a paste along with the salt, then add the egg.  Add the light oil in a steady thin stream, mixing or whisking all the while and being very thorough.  Stir the lemon juice and olive oil in by hand at the last minute.

Gremolata

Pictured at top.

Think of gremolata as pesto made from greens that are not basil. Like pesto, gremolata can be served with pasta, but it is also superb as a coating for grilled zucchini or other vegetables. At our farm, we also like a dollop of gremolata on grilled pork or chicken, or scooped as a dip onto crudité or crackers.

INGREDIENTS

2 cloves garlic

4 anchovy filets (omitting these is fine)

½ teaspoon salt

1 bunch Swiss chard

1 bunch kale (any variety is fine)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Start a big stock pot of salted water to boil. Chop the stems off the kale and Swiss chard. When the water is boiling, plunge the greens in whole. Set a timer for two minutes, then pull the blanched greens out. Dunk them in a large bowl of cold water for another two minutes. With your hands, squeeze as much water from the cool greens as you can.

Using a food processor, mince the garlic and salt and anchovies, followed by the blanched, drained greens. Add the lemon juice and oil.  

Crab Apple Mustard

Pictured at center right.

Making your own mustard is easy to do. The flavor mellows and blends well over time, so it’s ideal to make this a couple days ahead of the day you’d like to serve it.

½ cup whole yellow mustard seeds

1/3 cup red Zinfandel

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons crab apple butter

The recipe is very forgiving, so substitute any type of vinegar you like, any type of wine or beer or water, and any type of fruit preserves you have on hand. If all you have is powdered mustard, go ahead and use that, too.

Grind the whole mustard seeds in a coffee grinder, then stir them together with the liquid ingredients.

Lacto-Fermented Dill Pickles

Pictured at bottom. 

These naturally cultured pickles are not preserved in vinegar. Like yogurt and sourdough bread, their tanginess comes from the lactic acid produced by a host of beneficial probiotics. Where grocery store pickles have a one-note sour profile, naturally brined pickles have a more complex flavor. We think they taste way better than vinegar pickles.

If you’ve ever had a real deli pickle, you know what I’m talking about. We think that naturally fermented pickles are much tastier, and also healthier for people to eat. A few things to know: these pickles need to be kept under refrigeration. The brine will be naturally cloudy. Bubbling is normal. And you'll be doing your body a favor with every bite.

If you don’t want to make these yourself, you can find our farm’s naturally cultured pickles on Saturdays at the Boyne City Farmers Market.

INGREDIENTS

1 quart water (you won’t use it all)

2 tablespoons fine-grind sea salt

1.5 to 2 pounds cucumbers, sliced into spears

1 tablespoon dill seeds

1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds

1-2 grape leaves (optional)

2 cloves whole garlic

Stir the sea salt into a quart of water and set aside to dissolve.

In a wide-mouth Mason jar, add the spices, garlic, and grape leaves. Slice the cucumbers into spears and pack them into the jar. Try to leave an inch or two of headspace. Cover the cucumbers with the brine you’ve prepared. To keep the pickles submerged in the brine, add a clean, empty spice jar, shot glass, or jelly jar like an inner lid to the quart jar.

Cover with a cloth and rubber band. A regular lid is fine, too, if you can get it to fit. Ferment at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. When they taste sour enough for you, your pickles are ready. Transfer them to the fridge. They’ll keep for at least a month, though we don’t think you’ll be able to refrain from eating them all before then.

Makes one quart.

Mary BrowerComment