Fed up with the corporate rat race, Gordon Jones and wife Sherrie Yarling sacked their jobs and home in sunny Florida and headed north where the enterprising couple started farming Shiitake mushrooms. After finding initial success, they branched out into another, more unusual enterprise.
Through a chance encounter with a local old-timer, the couple learned they could use the Shagbark Hickory trees that grow on their 68 acre Indiana property to make syrup. And that's just what they did.
Available at Dean and DeLuca stores or online at www.hickoryworks.com.
For some reason, I expected Hickory Syrup to be strong -- like real Maple Syrup on steroids. But I was wrong. The flavor of Shagbark syrup is subtle and delicate, yet complex. Less sweet than its maple counterpart, you'll get hints of nuts and smokiness. It's no wonder so many of America's top chefs are using Hickory syrup in more and more of their signature dishes.
I served some over buckwheat pancakes for breakfast the other morning and they were fabulous. I also made an incredible glaze for some grilled baby back pork ribs by mixing a couple shots of bourbon with 1/2 cup syrup, 2 chipotle chilies (canned in adobo sauce) and half a cup of peach nectar, then reducing by 1/3. Brush on the ribs in the last 10 minutes of grilling.
Experiencing Shagbark Hickory Syrup is like tasting the fine wine of syrups (with a much more affordable price). If you love to experiment with ingredients to add greater dimension and character to your culinary repertoire, Hickory syrup is a wonderful and inspiring pantry addition.