I was at Central Market when a craving hit me: “sausages… with hot-as-hell honey mustard on them”. I went to the mustard section and stood next to another guy who was also looking over every jar. The selection was huge but nothing stood out for either of us. We must have been like people looking up at the sky, because soon enough a third person turned up and asked what kind of mustard we wanted. Here out of the blue was a mustard enthusiast. “Honey mustard tends to be too sweet and not hot enough,” I complained to him. “Yes,” he said, “they are all like that. You’d be better off getting a good hot mustard and mixing in honey yourself.”
Challenge accepted. I went home with a very hot (and pure) mustard: Kozlik’s XXX Hot mustard from Canada. Of course I forgot to buy sausages.
Today I had some nice simple organic turkey dogs on hand, so I fried them and lined up these contenders to mix with the mustard:
I could have just mixed in any plain honey to make the mustard sweeter, but what I really wanted was a flavor pairing, where the honey added something special. So I chose honeys with wildly different flavor profiles to see which ones would work. For each honey I mixed just enough into a dollop of mustard to add flavor and sweetness without getting too sweet. I couldn’t go on doing this all day because soon my nostrils were burning and my palate bombed out from the hot mustard. Plus I was hungry.
Results, in order of experiment:
Leatherwood Honey (Tasmania)
Blech! This unique honey seems to be good for eating straight only. So far it has ruined any food I’ve tried it with. It even killed this hot mustard with its strong floral-aftershave aroma. Barf.
Buckwheat Honey (Washington State)
Fail. I had high hopes for this combo, but the buckwheat has a round sweetness and a strong flavor that both seemed at odds with the mustard.
Chestnut Tree Honey (Italy)
Yum. The deeply nutty / woody flavor of this honey complemented the mustard flavor. This honey is rather strange to the uninitiated (until they try it on triple-cream cheeses), but the mustard toned down the strangeness so altogether it was nice and rich and hot.
Brazilian Pepperwood Tree Honey (California)
Fail. This is an amazing honey but it didn’t work with mustard. Its fruit flavor didn’t match, and the combo seemed a bit sour.
Neem Honey (India)
I had high hopes for this one but it was just OK with mustard. I’ve been using up this honey lately, since it’s so good in my morning Irish breakfast tea with cream. It has a sort of funky brown sugar flavor, so I thought it would be great with the mustard, but in fact there seemed to be a “flavor hole”, like some important component was missing, and the mustard covered up its special qualities.
Wilelaiki Blossom (Hawaii)
Fail. This wonderful honey is just too subtle to work with the mustard.
Chestnut Tree Honey (France)
Yum. Since the Italian version of this honey worked with mustard, I thought I would get out my very special jar of French chestnut honey which my friend got for me when she was abroad. The French version of this honey is the most bitter honey I own, and its flavor is stronger than the Italian version as well. If you eat some straight and don’t eat anything else, the flavor hangs around for a long time. It was great with the mustard.
Beechwood Honey (New Zealand)
Meh. I had high hopes for this combo as well, since Beechwood tree honey is so malty and strong, but it didn’t really complement the mustard and something was covered up.
So the best mixture was (of course) the one I can’t make in quantity, since I can’t get the French chestnut honey in Seattle and value it too highly. However I can get the Italian version, and that combo was nearly as good. And when I had it with the turkey dogs, it was the best honey mustard ever.