No barbecue should be without pickles, it’s sort of an unwritten law of backyard barbecue entertaining. Homemade pickles add intrigue and maybe even an element of (dare I say…) gourmet sophistication to your simple backyard barbecue. Not only are homemade pickles (pickled cucumbers, to be specific) delicious, they’re also an excellent point of interest. Pickling is an easy (really really easy, I promise) technique to learn, and a fabulous conversation starter. Rather than having your nosey neighbor and super old Great Aunt Fanny talk about exceptionally boring stuff, they’ll be saying, “You made your own pickles? Oh how fancy! …” and so on and so forth. Plus, it only takes about fifteen minutes of actual “work”, though I wouldn’t really call it work. The hardest part, I’d say, is trying not to cry while cutting the onions. I’m genuinely terrible at that.
Homemade, of course, also allows for customization of flavors, quality of ingredients and adds a unique freshness that you really just can’t get from a jar. These pickles are savory and salty but also sweet and spicy. What more could you ask from a food? Pickles are an epic journey of flavor in just one tiny little (did I mention low calorie, fat free, gluten free, vegan?) bite! They’ll leave an inspiring impact with highly unique, tangy flavor and crisp lightness and freshness. The balance of acid and spice and sweet is truly, in my opinion, incomparable perfection. The best and most impressive part is that it’s packed into such a teeny tiny, iddy-biddy, little sliver of cucumber! Can you think of any other food like it? It’s fantastic!
No wonder pickling is one of the oldest ways to prepare and preserve food. It’s genius in its efficiency, meaning that the technique and preparation are so simple yet yield maximum amounts of multi-dimensional flavor. It’s one of the smartest techniques that I can think of.
These particular pickles take your ordinary hamburger or hot dog or veggie burger or tofu-dog (etc.) to an astronomical dimension of awesome (ok, maybe I’m glorifying a bit here, but it’s hard not to…they’re really good!). Add some sharp cheddar cheese and a fried onion ring to a toasted bun with some homemade green tomato ketchup and forget about it because you (and I) are now in food heaven. I don’t even need the burger by that point, since the burger is just a vehicle for awesomeness. See? This is what happens when you’re a vegetarian. Suddenly the little things like condiments and garnishes become the center focus of the dish. The burger? I’m sure you can figure that part out for yourself.
If you like your pickles a little sweeter like bread and butter pickles, add another quarter cup of sugar (half a cup total). If you like your pickles a little more spicy, add a couple more Serrano chiles to the mix. The chiles are whole, so they add only a little heat; they’re not shockingly spicy by any means just deliciously perfect and warm to balance out the natural cool-crispness of the cucumber. The kids won’t even notice the spice, in my opinion. I added some fresh dill to the original recipe and reduced the sugar by half, just because I love salty-sour-tangy dill pickles with just a hint of sweetness and zest as an all-American staple to a fourth of July barbecue. I fully encourage you to adapt this recipe to your liking.
Hope you all have a wonderful, safe and happy Fourth of July!
p.s. THE GIVEAWAY WINNER IS ERIN @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts! Please e-mail me your continental US mailing address at KatefromScratch@gmail.com in order to expedite shipping (less time tracking you down ;)). Congratulations Erin and thank you to all who participated. There will be more opportunities to win other giveaways in the near future. Please be on the lookout for that. Thank you!
Adapted from “Burger Pickles” recipe by Susan Feniger
- 3 tbsp. canola or other neutral flavored oil
- 3-4 Serrano chiles, whole (one ounce)
- 7 garlic cloves, whole (one ounce)
- 1 1/2 white onions, julienned (6 ounces)
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. cumin seed
- 2 pounds Persian or baby (or other choice) cucumber sliced in rounds of desired thickness
- 1 tbsp. chopped, fresh dill
1. Place deep sauté pan over medium high heat. Add oil, chiles, onion and garlic to flash fry. When skin blisters on the chiles and the onions and garlic start to get a bit of color on them, remove from heat and drain the oil from the mix.
2. Place fried ingredients in medium saucepot over medium high heat. Add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt and cumin seed. Bring to boil.
3. Pour pickling liquid over cucumbers in a clean glass container and top with fresh dill. Cover and bring to room temperature, then refrigerate. Pickles will be ready in approximately 3-5 hours, depending on the thickness of cucumber slices.