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Cooking With Black Pepper

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Over the years I've read and heard that black pepper, if cooked too long, or cooked over high heat, can turn bitter and lose flavor. For thirty years or so I've only added pepper to my soups, stocks, and stews during the last 30-minutes or so of cooking to maintain the flavor and intensity of the pepper. Likewise, when frying, searing, or grilling meat, I pass on the pepper until late in the cooking.

However, most recipes I read, and on almost every cooking show I watch, pepper is added early, and succumbs to the high heat or long cooking process.

Have I been wrong in my approach, or are the TV chefs and recipe writers giving out less than stellar advice? I am especially curious because some chefs and recipes make it a point to to suggest using pepper late in the cooking process and sometimes even comment that pepper can suffer if cooked too long or over high heat.

So, what's the truth?

shel
post #2 of 22
I have never noticed pepper to lose its flavour or go bitter. In my experience seasoning late on in the cooking means that you taste it more at the end result, and seasoning early on cooks it into the food for want of a better explanation. I don't always use pepper, I believe that salt enhances flavour and pepper changes it. I am also sometimes surprised when I see S&P added to everything, especially salty ingredients like bacon or anchovies.
post #3 of 22
I have found that for sauces and steaks, freshly coarse ground black pepper works well early in the cooking process.

I only use finely ground pepper for homemade sausage egg mcDoc's. Otherwise I always put the pepper in early. I use fine ground on hamburgers while they are raw, and haven't had a problem.

Putting it on last would just give you a peppery tang, whereas, most dishes, etc. I like to cook the flavors together to achieve an overall effect.

doc
post #4 of 22
I've heard the same thing but with white pepper; but in my experience I've never noticed a difference. I personally add it in the beginning and I've never had a problam.
post #5 of 22
Black pepper is my favorite seasoning after salt. I usually use it both at the beginning of cooking and also at the table. I like to put it directly in the pan with the oil and let it heat to get some of the flavor out. I don't know the chemistry of it, but i never noticed any bitterness. I love it in sauteed onions, in any kind of sauce and on meat.
I also like pink pepper and like the combination of black& pink pepper and coriander seed. Great on lamb and pork.
If i'm pan cooking meat i put these all in the oil and heat the pan before putting in the meat.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #6 of 22
The modern technique with salt and pepper is "layering." This means adding seasoning -- especially S&P at the earliest appropriate part of the cooking process, then adding it again later, perhaps several times, (again) as appropriate -- and finally adjusting the seasoning just before serving.

The right level of adjusted seasoning is to the taste of your least tolerant diner, then allowing your other diners to add to their own taste. Seasonings, including S&P (or maybe that should be especially S&P) are usually beneficial throughout the cooking process, and also allow the cook to set a seasoning baseline to give new tastes some context as (s)he goes along..

My own seasoning levels have become very predictable to me. While they are consistent with the good restaurants we go to, sometimes I feel my cooking is getting boring and too predictable no matter what corner of world cuisine I'm fooling with. But la jefesota hasn't said anything yet. Like the man who fell off a 52d story balcony was heard to said as he passed a fellow looking out a 3d floor window, "So far, so good."

BDL
post #7 of 22
boar_d_laze brings up salt as well. I read once, many many years ago, and don;t remember where, that salt brings out the liquid in things (like you salt the cucumbers to make tzatziki or salt the eggplants before cooking so they don;t let out too much water). So i always avoided salting meat at the beginning of the cooking, and if i'm sauteeing a vegetable i only salt it if i want the liquid to come out (like sauteeing cauliflower to make a pasta dressing, so i don;t have to add any water but can get it to cook soft) and i always salt the soffritto - the sauteed garlic, onion, etc, that forms the flavor base of many dishes, so that the flavor will come out of the cells and flavor the ingredients that are added to it. But boiling vegetables i avoid adding salt to the water until the very end, so the flavor doesn;t leach out into the cooking water.
My question is, is this valid? does salt leach out flavor and nutriments in, say, boiled stringbeans or broccoli? Does it leach out the blood of the meat so the meat remains dry and the pan fills with water?
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #8 of 22
Along these lines, does anyone make steak au poivre on a regular basis? That uses coarse-ground peppercorns and high heat, right?

I've also had a few friends who liked their steaks "black and blue." Packed with coarse pepper on the outside, the seared increadibly hot and left very rare inside.

I've never had either, but it seems like if anything would be a candidate for bitter pepper flavor, they would.

What say you?

Focus
post #9 of 22
Many old wive's tales contain some elements of truth. These contain very few. The meat version is especially widespread and pernicious.

There's some controversy about when to add salt regarding long dry "marinades," as, for instance, in using rubs for competition barbecue. However, salting your meat a few minutes before hitting the pan with it will not cause it to bleed out faster than it would ordinarily -- at least not fast enough to notice. It will make a sight improvement in developing fond, and a rather larger improvement in developing "crust," i.e., the meat's surface texture resulting from searing. Nearly all professional chefs salt meat before browning or searing and steaks before cooking.

The best way to tell is to cut a steak in half, season one before and after (if necessary) cooking and the other after only.

When cooking steak, I intentionally draw a little moisture from the meat by using a brief marinade (20 minutes or so) in a tablespoon or two of red wine and worcestershire sauce in order to create a "syrup" of meat juices and marinade to "glue" the rub to the meat. Try 1 tbs of each for two pounds of steak, and you'll end up with less than 2-1/2 tbs of a very thick liquid. Two pounds of steak can afford to lose 1 tsp moisture in exchange for the benefits. Most people lose a lot more by not properly resting the meat anyway.

Worth another experiment?

Vegetables should always be boiled in salted water, because they taste better and there is no known nutritional difference. My pontification aside, simply cook two pots and see which you like better. Huge difference.

Finally -- use kosher salt if possible for salting meat before cooking because it adheres to the meat better and does not dissolve as easily as table salt. Use ordinary table salt for cooking anything in solution. It dissolves more easily and completely, costs less, and taste the same once dissolved. Use whatever you like for "finishing" and at the table. Exotic salts bring slightly different tastes and are fun to play with.

My dos centavos,
BDL
post #10 of 22
thanks, bdl, i expected no less.
I can't get kosher salt here, but of course I can get sale di trapani - and it's so tasty. It's a bit heavier-ground than american table salt, so it probably will work well enough.
my dos centavos? what does that mean?
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #11 of 22
"my dos centavos" roughly, "my two cents," although for a sophisticated and world weary Euro such as you I should have said, "my dos pesetas."

Kosher salt isn't actually kosher, it's just crushed large so that it won't dissolve as easily as finer ground table salt. Which is the long way of saying your choice is an excellent one.

BDL
post #12 of 22
I have never noticed any difference in the taste when I have added pepper at different times. When I have added pepper early it seems to cook into the food and when I add it in later it seems to be cook onto the food. Which can change the way the food taste. But never has the pepper gone bitter or changed the way it taste.:lips:
post #13 of 22
I never had a problem with black or white pepper even when I make Steak Au Poive, as far as adding salt to vege water or pasta water, the only thing I think it does is make the water boil at a higher temp, which is great for pasta, and since I shock most of my veges I do not taste a difference. If possible use course salt. Hey BDL my box of Kosher Salt has an OU on it, but isnt it considered Parve?
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #14 of 22
I like steak au poivre and I admit that I do notice a slight bitterness from the crushed peppercorns. But that's what I like about it.

I am reading a cook book by Jamie Oliver and he talks about how we need to develop our taste for bitter, and that bitter flavors used to be part of our palate until all our food started having lots of sugar and salt added.

I put peppercorns in my stocks and I never taste a bitter flavor. I've heard Alton Brown also mention that pepper burns quickly. I can't attest to it though.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #15 of 22
Steak au poivre is delish done "black and blue" - its the only way I'll eat it. It does go a little bitter, as it burns on the really high temp, but as Mapiva said, that's part of the attraction.

I do have a query on pepper..... Why has the world seemed to have gone off white pepper? Everything seems to say "season with fresh ground black pepper"?

There's some foods white pepper matches with better than black, for example, cornish pasties and the like. And when you want a white sauce - wouldn't it be more attractive using white pepper than having all those black specks in it from ground black?

It's been bugging me for a while..... hehe :)

DC
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #16 of 22
For some reason I don't like the taste or smell of white pepper.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #17 of 22
I can't speak for cornish pasties, but what can possibly be more appetizing than the little black flecks in something white? White potatoes with just oil and black pepper? Fried eggs with the black pepper all over the whites? Bechamel with little black flecks? I never could understand why cookbooks said to use white - it takes away the appeal for me. i guess it's all a question of taste, but for me, seeing those little black flecks is what makes many foods appealing!
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #18 of 22
Siduri - we can agree to disagree then :) Black flecks in something white makes me think somethings been burnt in the making of it - that's probably just me though.

White and black definitely taste diffferent, green and pink have their place but not often. I think they are there more for colour than flavour. A green peppercorn sauce is ok but doesn't have much impact, taste wise, to me.

DC
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #19 of 22
i guess so, and i guess that's what taste is all about, it's personal!

i'm not a great fan of green (can take it or leave it) but pink, ah, pink pepper is special. I often put it on meat and it gives it a special taste, like some undefinable spice that you can;t put your finger on. Pink and black pepper and coriander seeds are one of my favorite combinations for roasts.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #20 of 22
Yes it is personal - how boring if we all liked the same thing done the same way.

Thanks for the tip with the pink and black and coriander....will write that one down and give it a go. Do you put it on the meat with the oil before you cook or as a seasoning after? Can you use it for roasts and steaks, and would it go just with beef or lamb and maybe chicken and pork also? How about fish?

Thanks :)

DC
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #21 of 22
I rub it into roasts (roast leg of lamb - wow; roast beef, great; roast pork - yum. I do it on turkey and on chicken too (i make a herb butter with marjoram, thyme, garlic, pink and black pepper and coriander (the grains roughly crushed) and stuff beneath the skin.
I use it on the pan for cooking pork chops.
I make an apple juice reduction with red onions and/or shallots and pink pepper and coriander for pork chops. Lots of uses.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #22 of 22
MMm yum....thanks again
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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