Let’s get straight to it: pickles rock my world. I love their crunch, their tang, their saltiness, and the punch of spice and flavor they add to the dishes they accompany.
Fried dill pickles make me swoon, I can’t eat a burger without a plump and crunchy pickle spear, and a cuban sandwich just wouldn’t work with out a layer of pickles.
My pickle lovin’ isn’t limited to just the cucumber variety either. I can’t get enough of anything topped with pickled jalapeños, pepperoncini peppers piled on salads, pickled carrots and onions with Mexican food, and a mountain of sauerkraut with bratwurst.
I can easily trace this addiction back to bread and butter pickles. This sweet pickle is great in potato salad, nestled in sandwiches, and if you are a member of the Phillips family, perfect with peanut butter. Weird…yes, but stick with me here.
Starting with my Grandpa Phillips, anytime chili was on the menu, so was a jar of bread and butter pickles, creamy peanut butter, and saltine crackers. Sure, most people would likely pair chili with cornbread, fritos, or even just plain saltines, but for us, nothing is more perfect than a cracker smeared with peanut butter and topped with bread and butter pickle. A surprisingly brilliant intersection of crisp, crunchy, creamy, salty, sweet, and sour that combats the heat of chili and leaves your taste buds wanting more of both.
Thankfully, my dad brought this unusual side dish to our table and I will be happy to keep the tradition alive as well (and maybe you’ll give it a whirl too?!). To make it even better, I learned that making bread and butter pickles at home is a cinch! Now I need a pot of chili…
Bread and Butter Pickles
Makes about 4 cups of pickles
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Note: I recommend reading Deb’s, from Smitten Kitchen, tips on kosher salt proportions. I could not find Diamond Kosher Salt, so I just used Morton Kosher Salt – I have written this recipe based on that. Seriously…try these with saltines and peanut butter!
1 pound cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick — “pickling” or kirby cucumbers work best here
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons kosher salt (see note and link above)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.