How often do we take Nutmeg for granted? All too often, we just think of it when we want a little sprinkle on our Double Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte, but it is capable of so much more than that. Nutmeg’s flavors deserve more exposure than just a wonderful fall beverage.
Nutmeg starts life as a seed of the aptly named Nutmeg tree, but it has a hard husk on the outside. That husk is removed, and turned into Mace, which has a pretty similar flavor profile to the Nutmeg that lays in wait for us inside.
The powdery form you are used to using should be adequate for basic baking and the like, but when you want a rich, aromatic flavor, you want to use whole pods. Plus, anytime you can eliminate processed foods from your cooking equations, and you want to, you are increasing quality and flavor.
FINDING AND SELECTING
Finding the normal ground Nutmeg is easy enough, but to find whole pods may take a little work if your local grocer doesn’t stock it. I am finding it is more common, but I do have to go to my more gourmet focused grocery stores like Wegman’s, Whole Foods, or Trader Joes. Look in the spice area, and one can even find that McCormick, the spice kings, actually sell it in their pretty little spice jars. Keep it stored in a sealed container, in a cool dark place, like most spices.
Using it will require the use of a tool. If you have a grater or a hand grater, that can work just fine. Only issue with the old box graters of the kind your mom probably had, is that you leave almost as much on the grater as you extract from the pod, and that is not what we want.
WE NEED TO TALK GADGETS
A good Microplane is a great tool to consider adding to your arsenal. It can be used for shaving chocolate for garnish, grates hard cheeses with ease, and grates Nutmeg like nothing else. I do recommend getting one of the longer ones out there, it will have the most flexibility in the kitchen and will provide the most uses.
Simply use the grater to grate the Nutmeg onto a flexible surface like a piece of paper. This will allow you to transfer it into your dish, or into a your favorite portioning device, for measurement and use.
Believe me, you will find the fragrance and the flavor of freshly grated Nutmeg to be bright, aromatic and a wonderful addition to drinks, desserts and sauces all year round.
Still a bit skeptical? Well lets make a simple sauce Mornay, a cream sauce with some cheese melted in. A perfect addition to chicken, or even some broccoli.
SHARP CHEDDAR CREAM OVER BROCCOLI
Makes 4 servings
Sweet Onions, Minced
Half & Half
Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Cheddar, Cabot Seriously Sharp
Broccoli, Freshly steamed
- Warm the half and half, either in Microwave or a separate pan
- Melt butter in the a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.
- Sauté the onion until translucent
- Add in Flour and rapidly whisk out lumps, Cook for 30 seconds, moving frequently.
- Add in the warmed milk and whisk to ensure no lumps are present.
- Add in freshly grated Nutmeg and salt, bring to a simmer.
- Reduce to a low and cook sauce for about 5 minutes, or until thickened to desired level.
- Remove from heat, and strain sauce if desired.
- Add in the cheese and whisk until incorporated. Heat gently if the cheese does not melt completely. Be careful not to overheat, this will break the sauce.
- Pour over your Broccoli and enjoy!