A little while ago now I attend the very fabulous 2012 Taste of Jackson Hole party, held at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Couloir Restaurant. It was at this soiree that I had the chance to sample a variety of amazing local restaurant menu items and a likewise array of fine wines, and inside of this food junkie’s paradise was where I first found the Q Roadhouse’s watermelon salad on taste-me display. The salad was a delicious concoction that contained, among other things, pickled watermelon rinds.
Wait, pickled — watermelon rinds?! I had to take notice. Now, I am from Virginia, which is technically south of the Mason Dixon line, but apparently not southern enough in definition for me to have been introduced to these culinary tidbits of spicy deliciousness. At introductory bite, I was hooked; these pickled rind throwbacks were damned good summertime eating. So in the spirit of the Ski Bum Kitchen, I promptly proposed to Roger Freedman, Fine Dining chef extraordinaire, that he help me with a project to share the recipe and process of this waste-not, want-not method of enjoying every last piece of this juicy summertime fruit. My request was graciously accommodated.
I met Roger at the Q Roadhouse so I could sit in on one of his watermelon rind pickling sessions, during which he shared with me his inspiration for the restaurant menu’s unique item. “We had a southern employee working at the Q, who one day say me prepping the watermelon for our nightly menu,” Roger said. “This guy saw me throwing away the rinds after I cut out the watermelon pieces, and immediately asked what in the world I was doing, throwing them all away.”
Apparently, southerners have been in the business of pickling watermelon rinds for quite some time now, as, I suppose, it only makes sense. Nose-to-tail translates into fruit-flesh-to-rind, and in the interest of efficiency and deliciousness, this practice is not only a fun tradition, but also a respectfully sustainable one. Afore mentioned Southern employee shared this tidbit of Southern heritage with Roger, who immediately jumped on board. “The pickled watermelon rinds act not only as a delicious component to our fresh watermelon salad, but they are a great way to utilize more and throw away less of the produce we’re getting in here at the Q,” Roger said.
The pickling process is fast, easy, and fun. It’s a great family activity, and a creative way to teach kids about how to respect every component of the food that comes through their kitchen. So here, from the Q Roadhouse and Ski Bum Kitchen, is your guide to pickled watermelon rind scrumptiousness: