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Our interest in strange peanut butter combinations was piqued by Food52's Account Manager Gabriella Mangino, who told us tales of a fried egg, bacon, peanut butter, mayonnaise, and American cheese sandwich in her hometown of Cleveland. This sandwich is not a thing of myth -- it's called the Elsie Combo, it's available for $6.29 (pre-tax) at Tommy's Coventry (where Gabriella used to work), and it comes as a triple-decker.
Curious about other unusual foods eaten with peanut butter, we asked on the Hotline and on Facebook: "What's the weirdest thing you eat with peanut butter?" Then, we threw caution to the wind, bought two jars of our favorite smooth peanut butter, and set out to make -- and try -- ten of the most bizarre-sounding combinations. Here are our verdicts:
Wouldn't do it again:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Omelette:
We wanted to like this omelette -- which we recklessly both filled and drizzled with peanut butter and jelly -- but we found its most redeeming quality to be its color: Green-hued eggs are a timeless party trick. It's true that we were to blame for the worst part of the omelette (that sludgy ooze) -- it was undercooked. With a little more cooking time, however, we can almost imagine that this sweet omelette might taste kind of like an very eggy crêpe or blintz.
Peanut Butter on Saltines, Dipped in Tomato Soup:
While Food52 has positioned itself as a defender of mush, we have trouble getting behind slime, which is the preeminent texture of this combination. Luckily, once you get past the slippery layer of peanut butter slicked with red soup, you have a crunchy cracker coated in peanut butter. Why not skip the slippery soup and go straight for the crackers?
Peanut Butter Hummus:
To make this dip, we swapped in peanut butter for tahini and sesame oil for some of the olive oil. While the texture was satisfactory, the taste made us question everything we knew about hummus (and not in an enlightening way). It was too blandly sweet to substitute for classic hummus and we had a hard time thinking of foods it might actually pair well with.
Wouldn't turn it down (if hungry or paid at least $3.00):
Peanut Butter on a Burger:
While some editors remarked that this burger was "legitimately good," others noted its problematic, hard-to-swallow consistency -- the whole package needed crunch. Perhaps the solution is adding crispy bacon?
Peanut Butter and Fries:
There was nothing outright offensive about this combination, but we'd rather eat peanut butter with a lightly salted spoon than with a fry -- both serve the same purpose, but the spoon is sturdier. The idea behind fries and peanut butter is the same idea behind fries and frosties. Once you've forced a limp fry to do more than simply graze the peanut butter's surface, however, the peanut butter adheres to the fry where a milkshake would soak in -- this makes for an experience that's even richer and more intense.
Bacon, Egg, Cheese, and Peanut Butter on an English Muffin:
This combination was enjoyable, yes, but were we surprised? This sandwich felt like a shoe-in. As one editor said, you could put shoe leather or a cricket (or both!) in a bacon, egg, and cheese, and it would taste good. We're not sure the peanut butter added much more than a thick layer of sweetness -- we wouldn't be willing to switch out our normal breakfast order for this one.
Would (maybe) make at home:
Peanut Butter and Sweet Onion Sandwich:
This sandwich sounded crazy, but one bite and we understood: The sweet peanut butter tames the sharp raw onion, which is crisp and pungent enough to cut the richness of the spread. It's our new favorite way to eat raw onion (and scare off possible suitors).
Peanut Butter and Hot Sauce Sandwich:
Finding no hot sauce in our refrigerator (the horror!), our intrepid editor Amanda made a homemade version using dried chile peppers. Her concoction was combined with the peanut butter to make a firey, addictive paste that got mashed onto toast. Once the burning sensation in our mouths died down, we were pleasantly reminded of a thick, textured version of a spicy Thai peanut sauce.
Peanut Butter, Mayonnaise, Pickle, and Iceberg Lettuce:
No one jumped to try this strange specimen. Kenzi closed her eyes (which was necessary), took a bite, and got real: "If I forget what i'm putting in my mouth, this might be the best one." We prefer a sandwich with dill pickle to one with bread and butter, as the sour pickles offset the mild spreads. Everything squishes together in the mouth so that the sandwich tastes like no one thing (though if we had to compare it to something, it might be most similar to a tuna salad sandwich).
Peanut Butter and Kimchi Sandwich:
Of all the combinations we tried, this one -- due to the appearance and the strong, fermented smell -- was the most initially horrifying. But, just like the raw onion, the vinegary, pungent kimchi did a good job holding its own against the oftentimes overpowering peanut butter. The peanut butter, in turn, neutralized the aggressive kimchi just the right amount. Our Social Media Manager Rachel loved this sandwich so much that she even made her own version several days later. The following is proof:
So what did we learn?
- Peanut butter is a dominating flavor. Some strange combinations -- peanut butter and fries, for example -- work because all you can taste is peanut butter. For other pairings -- like the peanut butter, egg, cheese, and bacon -- the peanut butter is sweet enough to be inoffensive. For these types of combinations, we'd rather just eat plain peanut butter or keep the original concept as is.
- We found that the peanut butter did its best work when coupled with sharp, acidic, and bitter ingredients like kimchi, sour pickles, and raw onion. These work with the peanut butter to create something new and exciting.
What weird combination should we try next? Tell us in the comments below!