Every now and again I like to post cooking experiences that don’t work. Mostly because I think it’s interesting to note that even an interesting looking recipe from a good publication can go way wrong. In some instances it’s pretty clear to me that these recipes were never tested or that they were developed by cooks with a very different taste palate than mine.
Anyone who reads this knows I have done some serious canning in my day and love to make pickles. And have made my fair share of them. Everything from Cabbage to Asian Pears can be pickled to great effect. One of my all time favorite pickles are Cornichon (aka Gherkin) – the ultimate French pickle, sour, crunchy, with a whiff of Tarragon. The perfect accompaniment to pate, cheese and charcuterie.
Lately I have been making a lot of Indian food so when I saw a recipe in New York Magazine for Pineapple pickles I was excited to try it – Pineapples are cheap, plentiful and in season (somewhere) so I picked one up at a local Chinese food stall for $2. This particular recipe is from chef David Trotter’s new restaurant in the East Village Boulton & Watt which is a large place on the corner of Avenue A and Houston that I have eaten at and really enjoyed. It looks like the kind of place 5 years ago you would have only found in Williamsburg.
All this to say the recipe looked good and comes from a good source. So how could it go so wrong? Well here’s my gripe, you have all these wonderful pickling spices…. Which infuse (in theory) a basic brining liquid (Vinegar, Water, sugar, salt) and here is the first problem – why make such a HUGE amount of bring for such small amount of fruit? Also after a brief time in the brine the spices all get removed.In the end what you get or at least what I got were these insanely vinegar-y one note chunks of pineapple that really tasted not of pineapple or spice but rather just of vinegar. The addition of fresh basil and mint at the end is gratuitous as none of their delicate flavor are anywhere present in the final pickle. Instead of packing them in Tupperware as the recipe suggestion I canned them and added back in the cinnamon, clove and star anise in hope of giving them some flavor – a week out they are still pretty much inedible but are beginning to have some hint of sweet spice flavor. Also after my initial tasting of the pickles I strain out the brine and added an additional 3/4 cup of sugar. In reality inorder to make this recipe that calls for 4 cups of vinegar bearable I think you would need to added 2-3 cups of sugar. In doing research on this kind of pickle I see that most recipes call for 1/2-1 cup of Vinegar to 1-2 cups of sugar. All them keep the spices in the pickle.All is not totally lost for this totally misguided or maybe misprinted recipe – I’m going to make these pickles into chutney adding back in the spices and some brown sugar, onions, ginger and some garlic. For the link to the recipe click on New York Magazine above. As always I am very interested in hearing what you think of this debacle and if you have ever made Pineapple pickles what your recipe is. Also it would be interesting for me to hear what your experiences are with this recipe – I find it such an extremely unpleasantly acidic pickle I can’t image it has many fans, but maybe its about context, I just don’t understand why you would want to make a pickle from something as delicious as Pineapple and totally annihilate it’s flavor?