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This is my third Beastie Boy inspired recipe (see this and this) and comes from my second favorite Beastie album. Ill Communication takes the rough, stripped-down, real instruments, punk-funk-rock-soul-hiphop of Check Your Head, and refines it to perfection. Sure, everyone digs the anthemic roar of “Sabotage”, but for me, it’s instrumental moments like “Sabrosa”, “Bobo On The Corner” or “Ricky’s Theme” that show how far the Beastie’s had matured from “Cookie Puss”, License To Ill, and the sample chaos of Paul’s Boutique. Ill Communication represents the group growing up, expanding their (and our) musical horizons, and taking us along for the funky soulful ride.
To be honest, this recipe came before the song inspiration. I have a bit of a pickle obsession. Usually, that leads to batches of bread & butter pickles, Rock Candy jalapenos, or pickled carrots. I’ve recently started experiments in pickled fruit (more on pickled pineapple at a later date). Back in my BBQ days, I made buckets of classic spicy dills but recently realized I never made them at home. A sale at my local grocer on Kirby cucumbers AND fresh dill seemed like a message from the Pickle Gods: “Maketh Thineself Spicy Dills”. Coincidentally, as I was making the batch in the photo above, I was listening to Beastie Boys’ radio on Spotify when “Get It Together” started playing. When I heard the lyric quote, I knew I had a recipe name.
These are fridge pickles. I have yet to get into proper fermentation though it remains on my bucket list. I also do not preserve my pickles by canning them. I work in small batches and keep them in my fridge (hence “fridge pickles”). The most important part of any pickle is fresh produce. If you can get if from a farmers market, do so. If you’re stuck with your local grocery, stick to what is in season and inspect it carefully for blemishes, signs of age, and freshness. I look for 6-inch Kirby cucumbers that feel solid (no mushiness) and do not appear dried out. For the garlic, find tight dense heads that feel slightly heavy. Take a pass if the garlic cloves are separating or sprouting. If you do not know how to choose fresh dill, well just don’t attempt this recipe.
The addition of Chile D’Arbol is my personal preference. I like spicy garlic dills. If that’s not your thing, then you certainly can drop the heat. I suppose you could also leave out the garlic, but you’ll end up with a kind of meh pickle in my opinion. If anything, cut back to one clove of garlic. I usually let these sit in the fridge at least three days before tasting. The longer they sit, the spicier and dilly they get.
Spicy dill pickles made with fresh dill, garlic, and Chile D’Arbol
Makes about a quart
1 1/2 pounds Kirby cucumbers
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 dried Chile D’Arbol, cut in half
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
1/2 cup fresh dill
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
Cut cucumbers into spears and place in a 1-quart wide-mouth mason jar.
Place the smashed garlic cloves, dried chiles, and spices into the jar with the cucumbers. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and then top with the dill.
Combine the cider vinegar and water in a small bowl or measuring cup and pour it into the jar. Using a spoon, press all of the ingredients into the liquid to make sure they are submerged. Cover tightly, gently invert the jar to mix, and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 days before using.