I have a mustard problem. At any given point there are about a half dozen bottles and jars of the stuff in my fridge. And that’s not counting the ground and whole seeds squirreled away in my cupboards.
But this isn’t garden-variety hoarding, folks. Mustard, in its multitude of configurations, is one of the easiest and most effective ways to liven up just about any dish. A pinch of the ground stuff in mac and cheese, a swirl of Dijon in a pan sauce, a scoop of whole seeds in a jar of pickles — if you’re making something, there’s a good chance you can make it better with mustard.
This week I’m going to highlight five types of mustard I’d rather not live without.
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Dijon mustard: This is my go-to for pan sauces. They can be smooth (which I prefer) or coarse with crunchy bits of mustard seed. I’ve been loyal to Trader Joe’s house brand Dijon mustard for years, but most varieties have a similar flavor profile of mustard, vinegar and white wine.
After you’ve seared a steak or pork chop, swirl a spoonful of Dijon mustard into the skillet along with a couple pats of butter. Pour in a bit of stock or wine and use that to scrape up anything left stuck to the pan. Let it reduce until thickened and pour that golden goodness over the perfectly browned meat.
Ground mustard: This is a must any time you want to add the pungent bite of mustard without bringing in extra moisture or the tang of vinegar that’s present in most prepared mustards. It’s most useful in any kind of creamy or cheesy sauce. Think fettuccine Alfredo, mac and cheese and any place hollandaise sauce shows up.
Ground mustard is also a great addition to any kind of dry rub you’d use on pork or chicken. It serves well as an emulsifier in vinaigrettes. And if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, it’s the foundational block of making your own prepared mustards at home.
Spicy brown mustard: Sometimes called deli mustard, this is my favorite for dressing just about any kind of hot dog or sausage, sandwich, burger or other thing where the fiery heat of the mustard will be tempered by the chew of bread. I grew up on the widely available Gulden’s brand and will always have a soft spot for it, but have come to enjoy H-E-B’s house version since moving to Texas.
On ExpressNews.com: Chuck’s Food Shack: 6 barbecue sauces should be in your cookout tool kit
Whole grain mustard: When you want a little texture along with mustard’s bite, this is the jar to reach for. I prefer whole grain mustards that are made with whole seeds exclusively and no ground mustard. Lakeshore’s version made with a splash of Irish whiskey, vinegar and a bit of sugar has been my favorite lately (look for it at Central Market.)
Try stirring this into your mayonnaise-based potato or pasta salads to add a fun, crunchy pop. A dollop of the stuff also makes an attractive garnish on top of hors d’oeuvres such as deviled eggs or open-faced finger sandwiches.
Yellow mustard: It’s an all-American staple. This is the one mustard that won’t trigger tantrums in picky kids or pique fits of passion from that annoying foodie cousin. If you’re having a cookout with a wide range of appetites and palates, accept no substitutes.
This is also the mustard to reach for when you want a dish to visually scream “mustard.” Because it’s made with a large quantity of turmeric powder, everything it touches from pan sauces to coleslaw to potato salad will take on that distinctive yellow mustard glow.
Naturally, mustard showed up in this week’s batch of honey-centric recipes in the Express-News Taste section as well in the form of honey- and mustard-glazed carrots. To give those or any of our other sweet and savory honey dishes a try, check out the recipes below.
Recipe: Honey-Glazed Roast Pork with Apples
Recipe: Honey-Chipotle Turkey Meatballs
Recipe: Honey-Mustard Glazed Carrots
Recipe: Honey Brown Butter Blondies with Sea Salt
Paul Stephen is a food and drink reporter and restaurant critic in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. To read more from Paul, become a subscriber. [email protected] | Twitter: @pjbites | Instagram: @pjstephen