I’ve found peanut butter to be a nearly universally appreciated food. Save those who have allergies, I’ve never met anyone who truly dislikes this classic bread spread. The only difference among fans seems to be that some folks like peanut butter, while others are passionately in love with it. For those in the second camp, I offer a recipe for possibly the best peanut butter in the world.
When Jane and Michael Stern, of road food fame, gave Hell’s Kitchen (the Minneapolis restaurant, not Gordon Ramsay’s television show) peanut butter a very public thumbs-up on National Public Radio, this pb got very famous very quickly. Used in the restaurant, HK’s pb is also sold jarred. When Hell’s Kitchen owner and chef, Mitch Omer, published his Damn Good Food cookbook (a must-read if you love sharp wit and a lot of drama with your recipes), the peanut butter recipe was finally available to all.
While I’m maybe more of a peanut butter liker than lover, I’ve still made this recipe at least a half-dozen times. It’s just that amazing. At its most basic, peanut butter offered salty-sweet before salty-sweet was the thing. HK’s gussied-up version (butter! peanut oil! roasted peanuts! brown sugar! honey!) also offers a slightly grainy texture–which is a very good thing–a subtle sweetness, lots of salt, and a lovely roasted note from the peanuts. Oh, and it’s creamy and silky and savory. If you love peanut butter, this is a recipe you must make.
The book also has a recipe for peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies, which uses HK peanut butter. I’ll again go with the superlative and say these are among the best cookies I’ve ever had. The peanut butter is intense and subtle at the same time, giving ordinary pb chocolate chip cookies an extraordinary amount of flavor. Damn Good Food (which is also a d@mn good read) is worth the price for this cookie recipe alone. (Though you’ll also find recipes for the restaurant’s most popular fare–cookie brittle, lemon-ricotta hotcakes, cinnamon rolls, and then some.) The website’s cookbook video is laugh-out-loud funny and as good a marketing tool as any. Omer and his crew have a healthy sense of humor, which says they must have loads of fun in their kitchen. Which explains, of course, why their peanut butter tastes so amazing.