I never fully jumped on the bacon bandwagon. And now the bacon bandwagon is pretty much done. You still get your occasional bacon vodka, or maple-bacon-bourbon cupcake, but I think we can all agree its pretty much over. Like cupcakes and macarons before it, bacon’s moment in the sun has faded.
But we need a trend. Something we can all rally around, overuse, and then abandon like so many trendy foods before it.
To the trend committee, I would like to suggest that we just start making everything spicy. Not spicy to the point that flavors are masked and everyone is crying and fearful for the next morning, but let’s play with peppers and flavors and use them in maybe not so expected ways.
Sangria is better with jalapenos (or a habanero). And how can you say no to Mexican brownies?
But let’s talk pickles today. Now, I know that spicy pickles are nothing new. I mean, that's what kimchi is. A spicy pickle. But these are different. Because these are sweet pickles.
Sweet and spicy pickles to be exact. I don’t know that refreshing has ever been a word applied to pickles, but these totally are. Sweet, spicy, and ever-so-slightly minty, these are the sweet pickles for the sweet pickle haters of the world. (Me, I love any and all things pickled.)
And while I would never do a pickle back with any of the many neon pickles lining grocery store shelves, I wouldn’t say no to a chaser of sweet and spicy pickle juice.
I wouldn’t say no to pickle juice, vodka (or Hendricks) with a splash of club soda either.
Sweet and Spicy Pickles
Inspired by the pickles I had at The Playground which then promptly vanished from the menu.
This makes a lot of pickles. I have cucumber plants producing like crazy, so I tried to use as many as I could. These are kind of addictive, so while you can 1/2 the recipe, you might regret that decision, especially if you bring a jar to a picnic or BBQ.
A note about peppers: I used almost all of one kind of pepper. Next time I would use a variety, probably 1/2-1 habanero, 2 green jalapenos, and 2 red jalapenos. Use whatever your favorite hot peppers are.
2 pounds pickles (English or Persian are the best from the grocery store since they’re unwaxed, or use whatever is available at the farmer’s market.)
5-8 thinly sliced hot peppers
1/2 cup julienned mint
4 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Slice cucumbers so they are about 1/8” thick. I found this easiest and quickest with a mandolin, but a sharp knife and patience works too. Put the cucumbers in a large, clean glass jar or 2 quart jars. Add the peppers and mint to the jar.
In a medium sized sauce pan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Carefully and slowly pour the vinegar mix over the cucumbers until they are completely submerged. There might be a little bit of extra liquid which you can toss. Put lids on the jars and allow the pickles to cool on the counter. Once they’re room temperature, put the jars in the fridge. They’ll start tasting like pickles in a few hours.