Sunday, August 18, 2019

Best Hummus Ever

I love hummus. Good hummus, that is. Sometimes the pre-made stuff in the grocery store is barely deserving of the name hummus. Grainy, gritty, and tasteless, it isn't worth the calories or the cost. When I hear people say they do not like hummus, I have to wonder if they've been the victim of some of that pre-packaged paste.

Not only do I love well-made hummus, I love hummus accoutrements. Hamilton's in Auburn has some of the best, in my opinion. Rob and I love it so much, we've been known to order two plates of the stuff. These are not small plates either. Hamilton's serves up full sized plates of hummus, sprinkled heavily with smoked paprika and surrounded by warm pita wedges, pickled onions, olives and pepperoncini pepper rings. It's so good!

Lately, I've been on a mission to perfect my hummus making skills. I've done it every way you can imagine, with canned garbanzos and with dried, plain and with add-ins, but in the back of my mind, I always thought it could be better.

With hummus, texture is a big deal. If it is too grainy or too pasty, the taste suffers. I want a hummus that is seriously fluffy and creamy. The stuff dreams are made of. I was flipping through some hummus recipes the other day and discovered that Bon Appétit had named hummus as their 2015 Dish of the Year. I decided it must be some really delicious hummus to garner that billing, so I checked it out. The hummus in question is the creation of a Philadelphia chef named Michael Solomonov and he has some interesting tips for making hummus.

1. Boil the garbanzos in water into which baking soda has been added. I'm no chemist, but according to Solomonov, this raises the pH of the water and helps break down the proteins in the beans which, in turn, creates an ultra-smooth purée when you put them in the food processor.

2. Use good tahini and lots of it. Do not skimp on this ingredient. While I have not yet tried Chef Solomonov's favorite tahini from Soom Foods, I do have it on order. I cannot wait to try it, because the Chef's other suggestions have made a world of difference to my hummus.

3. Chop the garlic cloves finely and puree with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Let sit for at least 10 minutes to give the garlic time to mellow.  This prevents that sharp garlic bite that can sometimes overtake recipes.

4. Use ice water to bring the mixture to its creamy, dreamy smoothness.

5. Chef Solomonov does not add olive oil to his hummus, but he does drizzle the hummus liberally with olive oil before serving. I did add just a little to my hummus while processing, but not nearly as much as I have with previous recipes.

6. Dr. Rick Marshall, aka Will Ferrell, says in Land of the Lost, "If Chaka meat were the secret ingredient on Iron Chef, I'm sure Bobby Flay would probably serve it with roasted red peppers and a dash of cumin and a braised polenta." Well, Solomonov, would probably agree, because he also adds a dash of cumin to his hummus. It's that little bit of umami that makes the difference. 

6. Chef Solomonov suggests the following toppings: hot smoked Spanish paprika, fresh lemon juice, chopped parsley, radishes, fennel fronds, and mango pickles. I am going to figure out how to duplicate Hamilton's pickled onions and throw on the pepperoncini pepper rings.

Another favorite hummus topping of mine is a Galli Hot Pepper Italian Salad of jalapeños and olives made in Destin, FL. We've been buying this stuff since we first discovered it in a little shop in Callaway Gardens thirty years ago. Now we just order it from Amazon.

My newest discovery is Burrata, which is a mild, fresh mozzarella, stuffed with mozzarella curds and cream. It tastes a lot like whipped unsweetened cream and is divine when spread on top of hummus and sprinkled with salt and red pepper flakes. If you've never bought Burrata, here are a couple of things you might want to know. It is packed in water, like fresh mozzarella. There are only two Burrata balls in the BelGiosioso container, so you aren't getting a lot, as the container is mostly filled with water. You cut the mozzarella ball open to dig out the creamy goodness inside. That's the part you spread on your hummus.

But make no mistake, this hummus is delicious all on it's own on pita wedges or with tortilla chips.

Here's the recipe:

1 can garbanzo beans...pour into a saucepan, cover with several inches of water, add 1/2 t. baking soda and let boil for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into mesh strainer and rinse with cold running water for about 30 seconds. Set aside.

2. 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped and the juice of 2 freshly squeezed lemons...add these to food processor with1/2 t. salt and puree away until the garlic is super fine. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

3. 1/2 c. of the best tahini you can find...add to lemon garlic mixture in food processor. While motor runs, splash in 2 T. ice water and blend until smooth, creamy and very light in color.

4. 1/2 t. cumin and 1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil...add these to the tahini lemon mixture in the food processor along with the cooked and drained garbanzos. Continue processing until the hummus is fluffy and light, super creamy and cloud-like. Place in serving dish, drizzle liberally with good olive oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika, freshly chopped parsley or fresh cracked pepper. Enjoy!

Three Friends and a Fork
Three Friends and a Fork

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  1. I love hummus and usually just wing it and don't follow a recipe but I'll definitely try this one. You have to try this pita bread. Best I've ever had from a store.

  2. Thank you! I’m always on the lookout for great pita! I hope you enjoy the hummus.