Spice Blends, Hot Sauces & Pickled Things SPICE BLENDS, HOT SAUCES & PICKLED THINGS
Some of the most common questions I receive from novice and experienced cooks alike are about adding flavor with seasoning blends, dashes of sauces, and spoonfuls of vinegary vegetables. I answer the spice-and-sauce question in two parts: I make my own blends, but my cabinets and counter are filled with small-batch specialty products like single-origin nutmeg from Diaspora Co., mambo sauce from Capital City, and smoked yellow peach jam from Trade Street Jam Co.
Of course, in families that are the most serious about their culinary traditions, spice blends and hot sauce recipes often get passed down. I wasn’t fortunate enough to inherit such wealth. But I do love the idea that in addition to these premade options, I can create my own seasonings to help give my food a uniquely consistent flavor. These recipes might well be the most valuable things my young son will inherit from me.
I use a spice grinder to make my peppercorn rub. Before I grind or smash seeds, nuts, or whole spices for blends, I toast them. In a small skillet, I heat ingredients like whole fennel seeds over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Be sure not to burn the spices, and let them cool down before grinding and mixing with other ground spices. For the other salts and rubs and the fry mix, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl with a small wooden spoon; mix well until everything is evenly distributed. Be sure to label your mixes with the date you made them, because while they won’t spoil, they will lose their potency over time.
The sauces require a heavy saucepan with a lid. Once made, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge; I’ve noted the shelf life in each recipe. I’ve paired sauces like the rhubarb BBQ sauce with meatless baked beans
, but they also work well with pork ribs
, and the green garlic chimichurri is perfect for more than lamb chops
—try it with rib eye
, too. I encourage mixing and matching sauces for your celebration dishes and everyday meals.
Throughout the cookbook, I’ll direct you to use these staples. Buy store-bought mixes, spice blends, or hot sauces if you’re in a crunch. But you should try to make your own, complete with your personal variations, too. Let the circle be unbroken for the next generation.