Mustard: The New Ketchup

Mustard is both a fruit and a vegetable in my house. Specifically, I try to eat at least the Recommended Daily Servings, which, as I recall, is nine (that can be tough during breakfast). Lest you think that mustard is boring, take a look at the incredible variety available, even in a typical market. And move on to an upscale grocery or specialty store, and the choices become overwhelming. But even good old brown deli mustard is pretty good, especially on a Katz’s Deli hot pastrami on rye. However, I draw the line at yellow mustard, which is adulterated with turmeric for that horrid color. If I am stuck I will use it on a hot dog, but that’s about it. 

The king of mustard seems to be Dijon, if not for its taste, which is excellent, then for its versatility. I will happily use it on sausages and sandwiches, but wouldn’t dream of using anything else in my vinaigrette. It seems to help emulsify the dressing without dominating it with that characteristic mustard bite. I have tried other mustards and they don’t work quite as well, but I have no idea why. Hopefully one of my many chemistry PhD readers will answer this burning question.

What I find fascinating about mustard is that it goes nicely with a huge variety of foods. We all know the usual suspects, but there are some truly odd mustard pairings that are just great. Boiled shrimp comes to mind, and of course corned beef. But not sliced on a sandwich. I mean corned beef and cabbage.

My current dry rub has a fair amount of mustard powder, and that’s pretty common in many parts of barbecue country. What I just figured out was why it tasted better when I allowed the rub to soak in overnight. Dry mustard is activated by water, and the colder the water, the hotter the resulting paste. So that 12 hour rest in the refrigerator does more than let the rub soak into the meat. I like my barbecue dry, so sauce is nowhere to be found on my barbecue, unless I am making pulled pork according to a recipe that I happily stole from a friend (hi Mike!). The sauce, which is mixed into the pulled pork, and then used again as a condiment, has a huge amount of brown mustard. Good stuff, and great for parties, because the only time-consuming part is pulling the pork — and that is hugely entertaining —  especially when you’ve had a few.

11 Replies to “Mustard: The New Ketchup”

  1. Mustard, perhaps even honey mustard, on a warm, soft pretzel (salted of course). Which reminds me, I think a few entries back you mentioned a honey-dijon chicken pizza…mustard on pizza? Must be a New Jersey thing. Some of the horseradish mustards are not bad (for sausages). And an herbed mustard paste (Maille, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, some bread crumbs) is essential (at my house anyway) for rack of lamb or even lamb chops on the grill.

  2. i love mustard-based bbq sauces. i keep one in constant rotation, and it’s always a winner with the folk.

    tumeric is unpleasant but not horribly yellow. ground mustard seed, however, is yellow. look at Coleman’s. yellow. i’m not sure tumeric is making that yellow mustard yellow.

    that said, i do loves me some french’s mustard on occasion, usually on a hot dog where i want the garlic and spices of the dog to be the star. and i also use it for my BBQ sauce.

    Dijon is very fancy. probably because of the name.

  3. I just did some internet research (that means I’m too lazy to do real research) and found a few mentions of tumeric being used to make mustard a bright yellow. As I mentioned, I’ll eat it on a hot dog if there are no other options, but I prefer a brown mustard.

    I find yellow mustard to be one-dimensional, and use brown mustard in my BBQ sauce.

    I have been using a Polish brown mustard (not in my sauce, because it is very spicy) called Pulaski that is great! Especially on good sausages, which is mustard’s highest calling.

    Dijon is fancy (I guess) in this country, but it sure isn’t anything special in France. Of course, neither is soap, but that’s for a different post.

  4. I have been making my own mustard for a while now. I grind Canadian brown seeds, add Bourbon, Balsamic, and various spices. I still buy Dijon, but mostly make my own.
    It also tastes great on meatloaf sandwiches.

  5. i tried making mustard not too long ago. did no research, just added brown mustard seeds of some sort to cider vinegar and cooked and blended. it was a horrible bitter mess. not sure what i did wrong, but i’m sure someone will tell me.

  6. Tommy,

    I will expand on this point in a future post, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to make certain things, except for entertainment. For instance, confit is a pain to make, and there are sources that will provide an excellent product for not much money. Sure, once or twice is interesting, but when I want duck confit, I order it from Hudson Valley Foie Gras!

  7. I admit that the first time I made it I was out of mustard, and too lazy to go buy some. I put fresh ground mustard seen in my shrimp boil, so I ground the seeds and used cider vinegar. no cooking) It was better than anything I had bought and took 10 min or less.

  8. Hi- Great blog! Where did you find Pulaski Mustard? I’ve been searching for years, since my A&P stopped carrying it.

    Thanks,
    Tom

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