Sweet, Salty, Sour

When I was little I had a brief love affair with radishes. I talked more about it here, but the gist is that I saw some show where one of the characters really liked radishes, and the next thing you know, I saw a beautiful red bunch of them in the store, convinced my parents to buy them for me, ate nothing but radishes for a month, then one day decided I hated them. For years, I wouldn’t go near radishes. It’s not that I really disliked them, they just…weren’t my thing.

Last week at the store though, bunches of French radishes were on sale. They looked so beautiful, so dainty, that I just had to take them. I’d figure out what to do with them later.

Turns out, the perfect thing to do was pickle them. With a few ingredients I had on hand, I pickled these suckers in no time at all, and they’ve completely reignited my love for radishes. One breakthrough discovery: these babies are un-effing-believable with thickly sliced applewood smoked bacon. I’m already dreaming up ways to make a canape with the pickled radish and bacon (and maybe something creamy? A spicy aioli?) for my next party or cocktail get-together. Beyond bacon, these would be great with just a little salted butter and fresh baguette. So French, so delicious. Recipe after the jump.

Pickled French Radishes

  • 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar, more to taste
  • 2 – 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • several grinds black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flake
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch (15 or so) French radishes, leaves and stems trimmed away, scrubbed clean, and very long tap roots trimmed

In a medium non-reactive sauce pan, heat all the ingredients except the radishes together, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Taste. If you’d like it a bit less acidic, add more water and/or sugar. Be sure the seasonings taste good. Bring to a gentle simmer, then add the radishes. Cook until they’re just tender (test this by gently poking a paring knife through one of the thickest radishes), then remove from heat. Let sit in the liquid until it cools, then store — in a bit of the liquid — in a non-reactive container. These get better with each passing day. Serve with bacon — seriously.

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