Three food gifts for your favorite carnivore.

Let’s face it. It’s hard to give interesting and unique gifts to everyone on your list every year. Maybe that’s why food gifts are so hot this year. People are looking to do something a touch more creative and thoughtful than a Best Buy gift card (boring).  So, we are taking a page out of Maggie Battista’s awesome new book, Food Gift Love and putting a meaty, carnivore’s spin on it. Here are three kickin’ recipes to add some zip and tang to your favorite burger lover’s arsenal.

Use some fancy tins and jars to package these spice rubs and condiments, and please have a look at American Burger Revival for more great ideas. (Heck, make a few of these recipes and throw a copy of the book into a basket and call your holiday shopping DONE.)

NYC Pastrami

Everybody loves them some pastrami. Sam Monsour spent the entire summer of 2011 obsessing over it, researching the endless varieties (Romanian, Turkish, Jewish, etc.) seeking to create his own masterful blend. Richard Chudy’s relationship with pastrami is equally fundamental (it is the sandwich with which he proposed to his wife Katie). In the end, the pastrami blend the burger boys came up with for American Burger Revival is simple, authentic, and delicious. This recipe harnesses the zesty power of a few key ingredients and loads of love, making it the perfect food gift.

Yield: Seasoning for about 2 pounds of meat

  • 1/4 cup black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Mix ingredients together and use in place of salt and pepper to season your burgers just before cooking. Leftover seasoning will keep in your cupboard for up to six months in a tightly sealed container.

Foolproof Whole Grain Mustard

Wanna look like culinary wizard? Batch out this easy mustard recipe and people will think you’re the king of condiments. Monsour and Chudy recommend that you play as you go, adding beer, wine garlic, and herbs of your choice–or keep it straight and simple and follow the recipe below. Simply mix your fancy mustard by hand in a bowl, or place all ingredients in a food processor to amp the flavors (see the note below).

Yield: About 2 cups

  • 2/3 cup yellow mustard seed
  • 2/3 cup brown mustard seed
  • 1 1/3 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Pack all the ingredients into an airtight non-reactive container.
  2. Store at room temperature for 3 days.

Optional: Pour contents of container into a food processor and pulse for 10-15 seconds, just until the seeds being to open up. (Or continue to blitz seeds until smooth for a spicier rendition.) 


Pickled Cranberries

Here they are again, back by popular demand! If you’ve never had a pickled cranberry, you’ve simply never lived. This tangy treat makes for a perfect seasonal and memorable food gift. They will store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, but they will be gobbled up long before that. These cranberries are perfect on your well-seasoned, charred burger (we recommend a hunk of robiola for pairing; see our Filthy Pilgrim to give you some ideas) or along side any other meat your recipient is going to be roasting. (We’re thinking roast pork: yum.)

Yield: 2 cups

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries (frozen cranberries work in a pinch, but nothing beats the fresh stuff)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 whole allspice berries
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook until the cranberries just begin to burst, about 5 to 8 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Pour the contents into a 1-quart non-reactive pickling container, seal, and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Cranberries are ready to eat after 12 hours but are even tastier after 3 days.

Storage notes: Pickled cranberries will keep in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.