|Donnie's, not yet mixed|
Poke around my cabinets and you’ll find a few such mixes. I’m partial to several from Penzey’s, the Midwestern spice monger. Two jars in particular I never let go empty: chef’s salt from a recipe by Hungarian chef Louis Szathmary and — a recent addition to the larder and a bigger jar — Donald Link’s mixture he calls Donnie’s Spice Mix from his book Real Cajun.
This chef’s salt is one I’m likely to use to season roast beef, to strew on hot candied pecans, or to spike potatoes roasted in duck fat or (as my great-grandmother called it) goose grease.
Louis Szathmary’s Chef’s SaltLink’s seasoning mix, on the other hand, has no salt at all. It’s a more pungent mix with a warm, mellow bite. If you use it, you’ve got to add salt separately. I tend to double the recipe each time I make it and it helps my budget that I buy spices in bulk at a nearby market with a substantial Middle Eastern customer base.
1 cup of salt
1 Tbl Spanish paprika
1 tsp black pepper, ground
¼ tsp white pepper, ground
¼ tsp celery salt
¼ tsp garlic salt
Mix and store in a dry place. In The Chef’s Secret Cook Book (1971), Szathmary notes: “Be sure to use garlic salt, not garlic powder. If you use garlic powder, a small pinch is enough.”
Donnie’s Spice MixThis one I use on eggs, in gumbos, in various soups, meats for the grill, and vegetable dishes. It’s the spice mix I reach for when I open the cabinet door and am not sure what I want. I’ve grilled great lamb chops by mixing this in equal measure with ground cumin then adding salt and a small dash of oil. Despite the cayenne, it’s not a blistering hot spice mix. I’m lavish with this stuff. When the paprika costs about $8 a pound, I can afford to be.
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Again, mix and store in a dry place. For the chili powder, I use pure ground New Mexican red chile rather than a commercial chili mix. It's your kitchen: use the powder you want. Just make sure it's long on flavor and has some oomph.
Goes well with:
- You rarely got what you wanted at Juanita’s Restaurant, but you got a lot of it, a reminiscence of muumuu-wearing, customer-beating, eat-it-or-wear-it restaurateur Juanita Musson.
- PDFs of many articles Szathmary wrote for Hungarian Heritage Review, most with recipes.
- My notes on Donald Link’s Real Cajun, including his recipe for smothered pork.