Behold, a list of things I am suspicious of: Raw garlic. Men in fedoras. Colonics. Bartenders who make negronis in martini glasses. (Please note: they should be served on the rocks. In an old-fashioned glass. With an orange slice. Like you were making them for your eighty-seven year-old grandfather.) B-complex vitamins. People who claim to dislike cake. And, most recently, a forgotten pickle recipe ripped from the pages of bon appétit.
I had clipped the page for its featured triple beef burger with spiced ketchup. At one point in time, I was suspicious of people who used condiments like "spiced ketchup." But after developing an unhealthy attachment to the lamb burgers and fries with with homemade mace-laced ketchup at Matt Murphy’s in Brookline Village I have since changed my tune. I would be nothing but a saucy, tomato-faced hypocrite.
Anyways, on my slightly rumpled tear out —low and behold—there was a pickle recipe by a Mr. Tony Maws. Initially, I admit, I had my doubts. It seemed to contain less vinegar than I’m accustomed to. And a bit more salt. I am certainly not salt shy, but I was burned by a cured scallop recipe once; I haven’t been able to look at the mollusk the same since. I am not, however, skeptical of the food that Maws creates. So, I threw caution to the wind and pickled as I was told. And then waited—a little impatiently—until I was able to finally bite into one.
Now, I am typically very, very distrusting of hyperbole—sniffing out superlatives with the best of them—but I am one-hundred and ten percent confident in saying that this recipe makes the finest pickles around. I'm quite sure this is what all other pickles strive to be. Perfectly seasoned. Impossibly crisp. Top dog. Most excellent. Textbook. Spot on. A condiment to judge all others. You get the idea. A pickle apotheosis.
Adapted from Tony Maws of Craigie on Main via bon appétit
2¼ cups water
2/3 cup white vinegar
4 sprigs of fresh dill
2 tbsp kosher salt
1½ tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp pink peppercorns
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp juniper berries
1 bay leaf
1 serrano chile
About 4-5 pickling cumbers (or about 1 pound)
Bring all the ingredients (except the pickles) to a boil in a large saucepan and stir occasionally until the salt dissolves. Meanwhile, slice the pickles into spears and place them in a glass container that will allow for the pickles to be fully covered with the brining liquid. (I used a Weck jar.) Just be sure your jar can withstand the heat of the hot liquid. When the salt has dissolved, pour your brine over the liquid and allow to cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate overnight, ideally at least 24 hours, before eating. The pickles will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.
Makes about 15-20 pickles
-In his recipe, Tony also calls for 6-1/8 inch rounds of peeled fresh horseradish; 2 tsp coriander seeds; ½ tsp whole allspice; and ½ large red onion, thinly sliced. He uses red wine vinegar, as well. I didn’t have any of these things on hand, since I hadn’t really been planning to pickle and all. So I added some pink peppercorns, subbed brown mustard seeds for the yellow variety, and slightly adjusted some of the spice ratios. (Of course, the spice amounts are rough estimates.) I guess what I’m saying is that there is room to play. Though I’ll definitely be back with horseradish and red onion next time.
-This is not a pickle that is bracing with vinegar. The recipe honors the cucumber, treats it in a way that summer produce should be treated.
-Maw's favorite burgers in Boston.