The PairingOak Smoked Gubbeen + Spicy Mustard

The Cheese: Oak Smoked Gubbeen (Cow, County Cork Ireland)

The name Gubbeen is derived from the Gaelic “gobin” meaning the “small mouthful.” The “small mouthful” refers to the bay in West Cork where the farm is located. Tom Ferguson and his wife Giana, who grew up making goat’s cheeses in Spain and France, currently make this cheese. The cheese uses vegetable rennet, so its texture is unique. The rind is inedible, but the paste of the cheese is semi-hard and has a smooth mouthfeel. (As if you didn’t know – remove the wrapper before you eat or serve it.) It tastes smoky and a bit tart — think cheddar + bacon.

The Accompaniment: Spicy Mustard

Because the cheese was smoky, I decided to make a spicy mustard. I’ve never made mustard before, but I haven’t made a lot of things before, and it always works out. I used Alton Brown’s recipe for the Best Mustard Ever as a starting point.

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup dry mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickle juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mustard seeds (I used a combination of brown and yellow)
  • My tweak: pinch of cayenne pepper and ground chipotle pepper to add a smoky and spicy taste.

1. In a small, microwave-proof bowl whisk together the dry mustard, brown sugar, salt, turmeric, paprika, cayenne and chipotle and garlic powder.

2. In a separate container, combine the pickle juice, water and cider vinegar and have standing by. Place the mustard seed into a spice grinder and grind for a minimum of 1 minute, stopping to pulse occasionally. Note: I only did this for half of the seeds. I wanted a more chunky texture so I left some seeds whole.

3. Once ground, immediately add the mustard to the bowl with the dry ingredients and add the liquid mixture. Whisk to combine. Place the bowl into the microwave and heat on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and puree with a stick blender for 1 minute. Pour into a glass jar or container and allow to cool uncovered. Once cool, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Note: You will need to heat this more than 1 minute to reduce it. It’s quite watery. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment until you get the consistency you desire.

Why this Pairing Works: The cheese is smoked over oak chips before aging, so its rich smoky flavor is perfect to pair with something savory. This mustard is spicy and a little tangy. The chipotle powder (smoked, dried jalapenos) added smokiness to the flavor, which enhanced the smoky flavor of the cheese. Remember those hot dogs with those little pieces of cheese in them? I used to love them. This reminds me of them in a more sophisticated way. Call me crazy…

Wine Reco: Oaky Chardonnay or Lager