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Black pepper on roast chicken: before or after roasting?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I just read in a book on cooking and chemistry something that surprised me: the author said you should add black pepper after the roasted chicken comes out of the oven, never before or during the roasting. 

 

Unfortunately the author doesn't offer any explanation for that statement. 

 

Any idea why? 

 

I add salt and pepper before roasting AND after carving.

post #2 of 17

When there is no explanation given then take it with a grain of salt, or in this case, pepper.  There are countless other chefs who pepper chicken before it's roasted and it's great.  

"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 #3 of 17

My Best Guess

 

He was saying that the high heat of cooking will drive off certain volatile flavor compounds. And yes, it does. But they're not all lost either as some do stick to the chicken.  

 

Or maybe since a slice of chicken only includes a narrow strip of seasoned exterior, you've not flavored the whole slice. But that's still true when seasoning after roasting. So Your technique of flavoring before cooking and after carving solves both of these issues. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #4 of 17

I agree with phatch's best guess, but it is always difficult speaking for someone else and what their logic might be. Also possibly they think the pepper will be burned with a resultant bitter taste.

 

As for myself, I always season in layers for similar reasons. Seasoning is not a one time process and done deal with me. Always before, during, and after.

 

Temperature and time affect taste. A hot soup will not taste the same when cold. If to be served cold, it will require more seasoning than it's hot counterpart. Many times a dish will taste differently the next day as flavors meld and mellow, this even holds true to a degree in a la minute preparation.

 

Last second seasoning will produce a different effect than initial seasoning. I am always trying small side by side comparison tests when I cook in order to determine what I think works best.

 

Although I will admit that there are countless others that indulge in culinary practices differently from me and that it turns out great, but that is also why I am a big proponent of trying different methods and choosing the best one for me.

 

I think seasoning before, during, and after hits the palate with the broadest sweep. At any rate, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for providing your input. Much appreciated, and I pretty much agree with everything that's been said. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post
 

When there is no explanation given then take it with a grain of salt, or in this case, pepper.

 

I agree. I cannot stand when a book tells you to do something without offering a shred of explanation. Especially when that something seems to be important. I remember reading a Joel Robuchon book where he starts talking about potatoes and says: 

 

When boiling potatoes, always add salt to the cold water, before you add the potatoes. 

 

Then he goes on talking about the potatoes themselves and ends the paragraph with:

 

And remember, if I told you to always add salt to the cold water, there's a reason for that, so make sure you do it. 

 

And at that point I'm thinking "oh come on!!! Tell me the reason?". I mean I can think of a few potential reasons but I really would like to know what Joel Robuchon was thinking of when he wrote that - rather than trying to guess.

 

So frustrating. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phatch

 

He was saying that the high heat of cooking will drive off certain volatile flavor compounds. And yes, it does. But they're not all lost either as some do stick to the chicken.  

Yes, I've definitely noticed that black pepper tastes different wether you cook/toast/roast it or not, much like any spices, in my experience there are both pros and cons to this. And that's why I like to add pepper before and after. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChefLayne

 

As for myself, I always season in layers for similar reasons. Seasoning is not a one time process and done deal with me. Always before, during, and after.

Yes, me too, and in fact I first heard of 'seasoning in layers' right here on Cheftalk. I didn't fully understand it at the time but now I definitely do. I remember helping a chef once, and as he carved a whole filet and proceeded to plate the 40 plates, he asked me to add S & P to each plate. It surprised me at first because I always thought that seasoning before cooking tasted better (the result of my own experiences). But I had never ever considered seasoning both before AND after cooking (which he was doing). When I sat down to eat the steak I clearly understood what that last seasoning was bringing to the plate and I've done the same ever since. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChefLayne

 

Temperature and time affect taste. A hot soup will not taste the same when cold. If to be served cold, it will require more seasoning than it's hot counterpart. Many times a dish will taste differently the next day as flavors meld and mellow, this even holds true to a degree in a la minute preparation.

I have noticed that too!! A soup that's perfectly seasoned the day you make it may need more salt the next day. In fact I had started a thread on the topic a while ago! http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63205/how-does-salt-react-to-food-refrigeration-time-cooking

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChefLayne

 

I am always trying small side by side comparison tests when I cook in order to determine what I think works best.

That's a great idea. I should do that more often. 

post #6 of 17

there is a long running "kitchen tale" that if you burn black pepper it becomes bitter.

 

hence the "never pepper before...." stuff - which one can find cited in reputable and a-reputable "sources"

 

like so many other people, I've peppered and broiled / grilled / baked / sauted / roasted / fried / pan fried / (and whatever I missed mentioning...) pretty much everything that walks, moos, oinks, squeals, flies, crawls, swims (and whatever I missed mentioning...) and not encountered the issue.

 

the loss of essential oils/aromas I have noted - stuff like sauces and gravies I hold off until the end to fresh grind pepper into.....  also makes controlling the "pepper heat / flavor" easier....

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

Cool, thanks for that info Dilbert. I didn't know that kitchen tale. I have never noticed bitterness with pepper before cooking either, even with steaks that I put in a screaming hot pan. Maybe the pepper we eat today is different from the one they had when that tale was created. 

post #8 of 17

The world is full of tales and beliefs and supersititions.  If no explanation is offered, assume it's a superstition. 

I roast and grill chicken and ALWAYS use a lot of black pepper - my favorite seasoning.  I pepper it, and put it onto a very hot grill, and it never tastes burned.  I often heat the oil with the black pepper in it before sauteeing vegetables or meat and it works fine, the flavor gets into the oil. 

"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 #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post
 

I roast and grill chicken and ALWAYS use a lot of black pepper - my favorite seasoning.  I pepper it, and put it onto a very hot grill, and it never tastes burned.  I often heat the oil with the black pepper in it before sauteeing vegetables or meat and it works fine, the flavor gets into the oil. 

Yes, I pretty much do the same. 

 

Of course in the end if it tastes good, that's all that matters. I guess I'm a sucker for understanding WHY. You know, every time my grand mother would salt a dish, she'd take a little more salt than needed (on purpose) in her left hand, use her right hand to take a pinch of the salt and add it to the dish, then throw away the remaining salt in her left hand over her left shoulder. Ever since I saw that, I've been questioning "traditional" techniques. :lol:

post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post
 

Yes, I pretty much do the same. 

 

Of course in the end if it tastes good, that's all that matters. I guess I'm a sucker for understanding WHY. You know, every time my grand mother would salt a dish, she'd take a little more salt than needed (on purpose) in her left hand, use her right hand to take a pinch of the salt and add it to the dish, then throw away the remaining salt in her left hand over her left shoulder. Ever since I saw that, I've been questioning "traditional" techniques. :lol:

 

:bounce::roll: 

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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post #11 of 17

I also pepper before cooking.  But for that I use a tin of preground stuff.  The freshness of just ground pepper gets lost when cooked, so I save the grinder to do final seasoning.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #12 of 17
Sometimes chefs over analyze things. Maybe there is a difference but it's too subtle for me to discern. I once walked into my kitchen and saw my husband pouring my fleur de sel into a stock. I freaked out but to him it was just salt. I read an article in witch Eric ripert explained that he uses kretan olive oil only raw! Heck I pour that stuff into the deep fryer and its great. At th end if the day the world isn't ruined.

"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 #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

Sometimes chefs over analyze things. 

 

I'm not a chef, but I certainly overanalyze everything. It stems from curiosity though: I like to understand how things work and know why I do the things I do - even though sometimes I also like to work instinctively too. 

post #14 of 17

A last touch of freshly ground pepper is good almost in every meal (change the grinder to very thin tho). Remember how they use Szechuan pepper at the last minute? Toast the grains, grind. Beautiful.

Talking chicken, I like a tip i read some time ago: before the chicken is roasted, sprinkle some sugar on top. Not for everyday roasted chicken but worth the try.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post You know, every time my grand mother would salt a dish, she'd take a little more salt than needed (on purpose) in her left hand, use her right hand to take a pinch of the salt and add it to the dish, then throw away the remaining salt in her left hand over her left shoulder. Ever since I saw that, I've been questioning "traditional" techniques. :lol:

FF, that's not a "'traditional' technique" - it's a (very old) superstition, like the libation to the gods, that the greeks did (pour a little wine on the ground before drinking).  Salt was extremely valuable, so I guess it was given as a gift to the gods.  That's just a variation on the one I always remember - if you spill salt, you have to take a pinch and throw it over your left shoulder.  More of a rite than a superstition, i guess.

"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 #16 of 17

My grandma used to do that. Check here. But the worst "rite" in catholic houses was that of making the sign of the cross on everybody's forehead when spilling wine!

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 

I see! Thanks for the info siduri and ordo, funny to hear your grandma did the same thing! :)

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