Cooking with David Mincey: The Pantry


left: all the finished Mason jars destined for the pantry. right: David Mincey finishes the meat pickle, jarring it. Photos by Colin Hynes

The second David Mincey cooking class at Cook Culture was very entertaining; about every 10 minutes David had something new cooked and prepared, which is crazy to think about! Try and make something totally different every 10 minutes for 3 hours, I know I would have a hard time. He tries to keep things moving fast, but while still having a good time.


The topic was stocking your pantry and, going in, I thought it would be covering such things as the types of grains to have on hand, and maybe fast ways to cook with/use them. Was I wrong! Instead, David shared how to create sauces, chutneys, and snacks that will keep in the fridge for weeks to months, so when we go looking for something to make for dinner, we might have a few more options.


David started by pulling out and unpacking two boxes of new Mason Jars while telling us how and why they are so integral to his kitchen. David uses the Mason jars instead of Tupperware for canning and for storing leftovers. One classmate, who knows David personally, quipped “David is always the first in line at the Canadian Tire canning sale”.


Next, David started making the three things he always has in his fridge, and feels are essentials (if he runs out, he will stay home and make them). He stocks his fridge with garlic confit, caramelized onions —slowly sautéed over the lowest heat on his stove for a couple hours—and sautéed, whole button mushrooms. He puts each item into a, you guessed it, Mason jar. He adds any of the oil or butter it was cooked with as well— David says this helps to preserve it in the fridge and that these three “must haves” can last up to a couple weeks. As he finished the garlic, he described how the garlic should be as soft as butter, and as we tried it, it had that soft feel. As David went on with the onions and mushrooms, he talked of how he uses the items; he uses the mushrooms in omelets or on steaks, the garlic confit any time he needs that hit, and caramelized onions go in almost anything.


Clockwise from top: mango, pecan closeslaw. Spicey mango chutney. brown dolop red thai curry. green dolop jamacian jerk. 2 sliced pickles, 2 plums from pickled plums. jerk chicken thigh. quickbread cornbread. middle pickled meat.

Clockwise from top: mango, pecan closeslaw. Spicey mango chutney. brown dolop red thai curry. green dolop jamacian jerk. 2 sliced pickles, 2 plums from pickled plums. jerk chicken thigh. quickbread cornbread. middle pickled meat.

After a quick clean up, we were onto the next subject. His pantry also contains many different pickling-based sauces and chutneys. Basically, David makes a sauce, but then adds pickling brine to it, which allows it to last longer, and also fills out the bitter/sour flavour profile. David urged us to have at least one meat marinade, like a jerk sauce, in the pantry at any time. He used his jerk sauce to marinade some chicken thighs during the class before cooking them. They were delicious, and tasted nothing like pickles.


David Mincey’s Jerk Sauce (no exact measurements as David never tells us, and goes purely on feel)

-Couple ladles of pickling brine, 5L of vinegar to 3L of sugar. (5 to 3 ratio is a good starting point. You can go 50/50 or even more at 40/60 if you need it sweeter.)

-Green onion

-1-3 Limes (with rind and pit)

-Cilantro and parsley

-All spice – He really poured it in. He had a family sized shaker.

-Soy sauce

-Sriracha chili sauce

-Salt and Pepper


If you can find one, add a scotch bonnet pepper for authentic taste.

Blend together. David says it is good for a month or more in the fridge.



The next sauce David made is probably something currently in your pantries but is really easy to make at home instead of buying. Mustard sauce. After he had made the mustard, we sampled it. Better than any store bought Dijon I have ever had in my fridge.


David Mincey Mustard Sauce

-A bowl of brown and yellow mustard seed soaked overnight in water. (more brown seed if you like your mustard more bitter)

-pickling brine.


Blend in blender till desired consistency is reached. Leave grainy or you can strain it to make smooth mustard.


Mise-en-place: the start of the meat pickle

Mise en place: the start of the meat pickle

David also always has some sort of a meat pickle on the go in his fridge. Meat pickles are like a chunky tomato sauce, but, instead of tomato, use pickle brine. David made one for us that contained olives, ground round, onion, cocoa, and celery. He cooked the ingredients with the brine until it had the texture of a tomato sauce. Once it cooled slightly, into a Mason jar it went. A few of the ways David uses meat pickle at home include: as a meatloaf base, for meatballs (just add a little egg), and as an empanada filling.


The last Mincey pantry item of the night can’t be kept in a jar, because there is always too much of it, he says. David premixes quick bread batters. This way he can always make a bread to go with dinner, or rolls, or for something different, cornbread.


David Mincey Cornbread – all measures approximate


For the premix:

5 cups cornmeal

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder


To use, add

4 eggs

4 cups milk

1 stick butter


David added for flavour:


garlic confit (from earlier)

green onion



Bake in oven at 425 degrees till done.


Till next class!

Related reading: Fundamental Building Blocks at Cook Culture: Part 1

To register or for more information go here

You can also go into Cook Culture and talk with one of the staff about the classes at:

1317 Blanshard St, The Atrium Building
Victoria, BC. Ph: 250 590 8161

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Written By:

Colin is the Assistant Editor at EAT. You can contact him via Colin was born in Nova Scotia and spent his first five years there. His mother and father owned an inn and restaurant and Colin spent his time ...

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