During a visit to my then-girlfriend Kyla’s parents just outside Boston in 2000, I was served the most delicious mustard I’d ever had. It was sharp, fragrant, spicy, filled with whole seeds like the maille à l’ancienne I’d loved in France, redolent with garlic, and absolutely impossible to stop eating. Never before (or since) had I seen a mustard I would happily eat by itself.
Seventeen years ago today, I copied the recipe into a notebook I happened to be carrying, and I’ve been making it ever since. It’s from a long-out-of-print cookbook by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie called Better Than Store-Bought, and I remember seeing lots of wonderful recipes in there. I’ve just ordered a used copy, and I encourage you to do the same.
As with most recipes, I find that this one tastes best if I consider the listed quantity of garlic as a lower bound rather than an upper one–add more until it tastes amazing!
Coarse-Ground Mustard with Red Wine and Garlic
From Better Than Store-Bought, by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie.
makes 3/4 to 1 cup
- 1/4 cup mustard seeds (Hollis’s Note: I usually use yellow mustard seeds)
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. honey
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. pureed garlic, or more if you’re mincing with a knife (Hollis’s Note: I usually use 3-6 cloves)
- 1 1/2 tsps. coarse kosher salt
- 1 bay leaf
- Combine the mustard seeds, red wine, and red wine vinegar in a dish, and let stand for 3+ hours.
- Put mixture in container of food processor or blender and add water, allspice, honey, pepper, garlic, salt, and bay leaf. Whirl to a fairly coarse texture. (Hollis’s Note: this can leave the bay leaf quite gritty and sharp, so I usually put the bay leaf in after the blending is done).
- Scrape into the upper part of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the mustard has thickened somewhat, but is not as thick as prepared mustard. (Hollis’ Note: I usually do this in a regular flat-bottomed saucepan, stirring carefully and watching like a hawk.)
- Scrape the mustard into a jar and let cool, then cap and refrigerate. The mustard will keep indefinitely.
Copied from the Tornheims’ copy of Better Than Store-Bought by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie on 2000/04/16.
Sometimes I add half a chile to the mixture to get a spicier mustard. In any case, I love this stuff, and I hope you’ll find it as delicious as I do!