A Bourbon Gal in Utah

cocktails, cookery & occasional domestic badassery

Archive for the month “May, 2015”

Rhubourbon Smash

Rhubourbon Smash Rhubarb, strawberry, sugar, lemon, rhubarb bitters, and lots of bourbon.

Rhubourbon Smash
Rhubarb, strawberry, sugar, lemon, rhubarb bitters, and lots of bourbon.

Rhubourbon Smash

2 oz. high proof bourbon

3 dashes rhubarb bitters

3 oz. rhubarb smash*

1 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

To a pint glass add rhubarb smash (including fruit pulp) and bitters. Smash with a muddler or the back of a spoon to further break up the fruit. Add remaining ingredients, plenty of cracked ice, then stir, stir, stir with a bar spoon for about a minute. Strain into a rocks glass filled with cracked ice. Serve with a straw and strawberry garnish, if so desired.

Rhubarb-strawberry smash. Basically, macerated fruit.

Rhubarb-strawberry smash. Basically, macerated fruit.

*Rhubarb smash: combine 2/3 c. rough chopped rhubarb, 1/3 c. chopped strawberries, and 1 cup sugar in a large non-reactive bowl or quart jar. Rest in the warmest part of your fridge (or in the cellar) for at least 24 hours and up to 2 days, until fruit has released all its juices. Stir to re-incorporate sugar and evenly distribute fruit before using. Smash syrup will keep refrigerated up to 3 weeks.

The story behind the drink….

Growing up, my sibs and I spent summers with our maternal grandparents in rural Indiana, and my Gram had rhubarb plants spotted along her drive like landscaping features from the Little Shop of Horrors. They were massive plants, or maybe just remain that way in my childhood memory. Mostly they were shudderifically scary because they were inevitably full of spiders, and harvesting stalks from them was an arachnophobic kid’s freakin’ nightmare. After much squealing and squawking about the spiders, I’d chop off the toxic leaves, and blast the stems with a garden hose before I brought ‘em inside. They were transformed into preserves, pickles, and my everliving favorite: pie. Gram made the best pie crust (using chilled shortening and oleo) and there’s nothing I liked better than helping her make the criss-cross lattice weave delicately topping a strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Nothing says "Spring" quite like peonies and rhubarb-strawberry cocktails.

Nothing says “Spring” quite like peonies and rhubarb-strawberry cocktails.

One of the first perennials I planted in our Utah garden when we moved here 10 years ago were two rhubarb plants. Only one of ‘em survived the first winter, but it supplies a shit-load of stalks for our family starting in April and going all summer long. Right now I’m in the midst of putting up all things rhubarb, usually with it’s sweet-tart Gemini sister strawberry right along side. I’m brewing up a huge batch of rhubarb-strawberry shrub, and last night skimmed some of the fruit and sugar mash prior to adding the shrub vinegar blend to make a zippy bourbon concoction. It’d be in the ‘smash’ category of cocktails (think along the lines of a julep, but adding fruit to the muddle), which is a half-assed way of saying you smash whatever you like and add booze. Excellent.

For more on how to make seasonal fruit cocktail shrubs, check out my previous post, here.

Charred 3 Pepper Ketchup

Charred 3 Pepper Ketchup

Charred 3 Pepper Ketchup

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Guy/Gal, Yeah?) is a recipe request from my boys’ ski coach, Ben, who I don’t know well enough to bestow a liquor nickname, yet. Gimme time.

As some of y’all know from previous posts, both of my boys downhill ski race for the Brighton Ski Team, and race parents spend an inordinate amount of time during the season freezing our asses off huddled under tents in blustery conditions clutching travel mugs of whiskey-spiked coffee. Our team’s parents are also known on the circuit for some pretty spectacular tailgating spreads. My job? Usually I pitch in with Bloody Marys and the condiment bar [which in text messages often gets misspelled ‘condom,’ much to the hilarity of my girlfriends. ‘Cause we’re still 12 maturity-wise]. Last year I canned up three different kinds of mustard and a couple varieties of ketchup, along with the usual assortment of kickass pickles like okra, carrot, dilly beans, mushrooms, peppers, etc. for Bloody Mary garnishes galore.

Ski racing tailgating at Park City this season. This was a particularly lovely bluebird day; perfect for vodka spritzers.

Ski racing tailgating at Park City this season. This was a particularly lovely bluebird day; perfect for vodka spritzers.

Of all this delightful shit, the crowd favorite is hands-down my charred three pepper ketchup [bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and cracked black pepper], which I’ve very loosely adapted over the years from a recipe I found in a home preserving guide. It’s that perfect combo of spicy-sweet-salty that’s more than a little addictive. We smear it liberally on buffalo burgers, dunk sweet potato fries, and it’s guilty indulgence epitomized alongside crispy potato chips. This recipe makes a lot [like, 10-12 cups], so if you are only looking to put it in jars and refrigerate it for a couple of weeks before it turns, I’d cut the quantities by half or a quarter. If you’ll be canning to make it shelf stable using the boiling-water method, keep to the usual rules of health and safety, please. Because botulism.

My son (in the middle) with his racing coaches at Snowbasin this year.

My son (in the middle) with his racing coaches at Snowbasin this year. I know. They’re all ridiculously adorable.

Charred 3 Pepper Ketchup

4 lbs. tomatoes

6 lbs. red bell peppers [about 24]

10-16 red jalapeño peppers

2 large yellow onions, chopped

3  1/2  c. apple cider vinegar

1 c. molasses

2 lbs. dark brown sugar

1 tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 Tbsp. (or more to taste) fresh cracked black pepper

To prep the tomatoes: Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl or clean sink. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dunk the tomatoes in the water until the skins begin to split; remove from the boiling water into the ice bath until just cool enough to touch. Remove the tomatoes to a colander to drain. Peel, core, and crush the tomatoes and keep them in a large clean bowl. No need to be too tidy, all this shit’s going to all get thrown through the blender anyway.

Peppers on the grill getting all charred up.

Peppers on the grill getting all charred up.

To prep the bell and jalapeno peppers: Set gas or charcoal grill to med-high heat. Char peppers on all sides until skins are just starting to blacken and split. Remove to a very large non-reactive bowl or pot; cover steaming peppers with plastic wrap and set aside for about an hour (or until cooled enough to handle). I wear gloves for this next part—ever gotten jalapeño juice into your fingers and then rubbed it in your eyes or other, ahem, sensitive places?—peel off pepper skins, and remove stems and seeds.

To a very large stockpot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the onions are softening and translucent. Remove from the heat and purée with a stick blender [or if using a blender or food processor, do so in small batches so you don’t get hot goo all over yourself and your kitchen]. Return purée to the heat and simmer over low heat until thickened; about 2 hours. Remove from heat.

For preservation and storage:

Refrigerator: Store in clean bowls or jars. Cool, cover, and use within 3 weeks.

Canning: Use the boiling water method. Ladle into clean, hot jars [4 or 8 oz. jars], leaving ¼ inch headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center new lids on the jars and screw on jar bands until hand tight. Process for 15 minutes [that’s for sea level; add additional time for your elevation. For SLC process for 21 minutes total time]. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the canner for an additional 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside at room temp for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

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