Masters of Food & Wine “Joy of Pickling”

by Candyce Paraggua

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NoMI, located in the gorgeous Park Hyatt Hotel in Chicago, is known for it’s award-winning food, excellent service and great staff. Four times a year, the restaurant hosts a Masters of Food & Wine Class, each with a different theme.

The theme for this past Saturday’s class was the “Joy of Pickling”, taught by Chef Ryan LaRoche. Not only was he excited about the topic, but he does canning and pickling for his own kitchen at home! Learning from him and getting inspired by the ingredients and recipes was a breeze. Following Chef Ryan’s lead, we made two different pickled items, each with a different brine. A brine is used for this method of “quick pickling”.

First up was the Chef’s personal favorite pickled item, to which he adds it to just about everything from pizzas to sandwiches – Pickled Jalapenos (recipes to follow). Our japalenos were pre-sliced for us, while Chef showed how to make the brine. When the pickling liquid was ready, we brought our individual jars to be filled and then capped and wrote our names on the top.

The second jar made was Pickled Strawberries. Sounds interesting! Chef Ryan showed us how to properly core a strawberry, and we did so at our stations, then filled our jars. Next into the jar was a vanilla bean, a little spice packed and thyme. The pickling liquid for this was different, substituting white vinegar for red wine vinegar. Tasting this by itself, we could immediately see why it would be a great compliment to the sweet strawberries. The vinegar in the brine gave just enough tartness while still enhancing the sweet fruit.

Once we finished our jars in the kitchen, we were invited out to the NoMI Garden to enjoy an array of breads, cheeses, pickled veggies and fruits. Trying out the different combinations of sweet, spicy, tart and sour, was lovely in itself. Knowing how the pickled veggies were made was even better.

The next Masters of Food & Wine Class will be held on September 21 and is sure to be great – learn how to make the classic French dish, Coq au Vin!

In the meantime, be sure to visit the gorgeous NoMI restaurant, lounge or garden to experience some of Chef LaRoche’s delicious creations.

Pickled Jalapeño

4 cups sliced Jalapeno
¼ cup sliced garlic
¼ cup sliced onion

Brine:
5 cups white vinegar
¼ cup salt
¼ cup sugar

Method: Place the Jalapeno, onion and garlic in a screw-top jar. Heat up the brine to just before boiling and pour into the jar. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for two days. Shelf life is around two weeks.

Pickled Strawberries

3 cup cleaned strawberries
1 ea vanilla bean pod
1 sprig mint
1 sprig of thyme

Brine:
5 cups red wine vinegar
4 cups sugar
¼ cup salt

Method: Place all the strawberries, vanilla bean, mint and thyme in a glass screw-top jar. Heat the brine ingredients to just before the boiling point. Pour into the glass jar allow sitting for one day in the refrigerator. Shelf line is one week.

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