Barbecue and Pickles: A Love Story


A recent cookbook, “Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen” by Edward Lee (Artisan, $29.95), captures the essence of two flavors I love together, smoked barbecue and crisp pickles.

“I can’t eat barbecue and not have pickles,” Lee told me when I interviewed him about the book.

I highly recommend his quick pickle recipes, including Bourbon-Pickled Jalapenos and Pickled Jasmine Peaches with Star Anise.

I’ve also been trying out several pickle seasoning samples from Fire & Flavor, the Athens-based company known for products like grilling planks and hardwood charcoal.

With each “Pickle It” package ($3.99), you get a pre-measured spice blend and a recipe to make 4-6 pints of refrigerator or shelf stable pickles. You’ll need cucumbers, vinegar, jars and, depending on the recipe, add-ons like onions or sugar.

I have had great results with the Sweet Bread & Butter and Icebox Dill seasonings. And I’m anxious to try out the All Rounder, a blend designed to be used with fresh green beans, okra, carrots, and other summer vegetables.

Pickled Jasmine Peaches with Star Anise

Makes 2 Quarts
Hands on time: 20 minutes Total time: 20 minutes plus 2 days for pickling

You need to flavor your pickles, but it’s a hassle to strain out or remove loose spices that you don’t want to eat. Using tea bags is the perfect solution – they are packed with flavor. You can steep the pickle liquid just like you would a cup of tea; then, when the pickles are ready, you can just toss out the tea bags. Of course, use only high-quality tea.

This pickle screams for a nice, fatty pork dish, but it’s great with the gaminess of lamb and goat too.

2 pounds slightly under-ripe peaches
1 cup champagne vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 star anise
2 Serrano chili peppers, sliced in half
3 jasmine tea bags

Peel the peaches with a vegetable peeler. Slice into wedges, discarding the pits. Pack into a large glass jar or other heat-proof container.

In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and star anise and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour the hot liquid over the peaches and add the peppers and the tea bags. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.

Remove and discard the tea bags after 1 day. The peaches will be ready after 2 days, and they will keep for up to 3 weeks.

Per 1/2-cup serving: 102 calories (percent of calories from fat, 0), trace protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 118 milligrams sodium.

Adapted from “Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen” by Edward Lee, (Artisan, $29.95).

— Bob Townsend, Food and More blog.

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