Yahoo Food is proud to present a new weeklong series called “Master Class.” Throughout the year, we’ll visit with some of America’s top culinary talents and share a behind-the-scenes look at the worlds they’ve created. First up, the country’s most revered chef, Thomas Keller of The French Laundry and Per Se. Here’s Chef Keller’s favorite pickle recipe, the source of which might surprise you.
Photo: Oscar De La Villa Jr
Blue Ribbon Pickles
Makes 6 liters
Even someone as distinguished as Chef Keller knows that the best recipes are the ones passed down from generation to generation. These pickles come courtesy of Betty Breeden, who happens to be the grandmother of The French Laundry’s Chef de Cuisine David Breeden. She used to make them without a recipe at home in Greenville, Tenn., where she still lives. Breeden put it in writing, and Keller’s restaurants have been using the recipe for eight years.
4 cups water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon Tellicherry peppercorns
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon star anise
1 teaspoon coriander
2 stalks celery, sliced to fit in pickling jars
4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
3 sprigs dill
2 pounds cucumbers, washed well, blossom-end removed
In a large pot, bring water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar and salt.
Add the remaining ingredients and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
Cover cucumbers in liquid and let sit for at least 5 days. Best after 3 weeks.
More from this week’s Master Class on Chef Thomas Keller: