It all began with a New York Times review about the glories of peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. Calling a “pb & p” the combination that “shouldn’t work” but does, this article lauds the “vinegary snap of chilled pickle” that “cuts, like a dash of irony, against the stoic unctuousness of peanut butter.”
Of course, said one of my roommates, a former chef, when I asked him his opinion on this food item. Pickles are sweet, just like jelly. Why not?
Then it continued with the cult trend of peanut butter and hamburgers, a combination that I noted for the first time at 551 West in Lancaster, PA, a restaurant that serves a burger of peanut butter and jalapenos. “I refused to ruin a perfectly-good burger with peanut butter,” I told my roommate, but he responded that beef and peanut butter make sense together, like peanuts sautéed in beef pad thai.
Dash of irony indeed.
I caved on both accounts — peanut butter and pickles, peanut butter and burgers — at Stack’d Burgers & Beer in Shady Side, Pittsburgh, where you can build your own burger with a seemingly endless combination of condiments and toppings, including (but not limited to) Fritos, Thai chili sauce, pesto aioli, and chili. My roommate had a point: my burger with creamy peanut butter and bread-and-butter pickles was moist and meaty — the nutty saltiness of the peanut butter made the beef more savory, while the peanut butter’s sweetness blended with the sugary pickles. The vinegar cut through the whole mess in the same way a good mustard or ketchup does.
My only complaint would be that I would have preferred the peanut butter to be spread on thin, like mayonnaise, so that the flavor complimented the meat instead of rivaling it, but I apparently didn’t mind too much — I ate the whole thing, licked my fingers, and still dove into the heap of tator tots that the Pittsburgh City Paper calls “as good as, or better, than those you remember from your childhood.”
Next up to try: a peanut butter burger with grilled pineapple.
Stack’ed Burgers & Beer
728 Copeland St., Shadyside
551 West Restaurant
551 W. King Street