Can we talk black pepper for a bit? There is so much emphasis on salt these days that poor ol’ pepper often gets pushed to the back seat. Yet, black pepper is called out in most savory American dishes and deserves a little attention, don’t you think?
First, don’t even talk to me if you use the pre-ground pepper. OK, let me re-phrase that. You’re not using the pre-ground, shake-it-out-of-the-red-and-white-tin pepper box are you? If you are, I won’t tell, but go to the grocery store today and buy some black peppercorns; any kind is fine, but stick with black for now. Next, get a pepper mill and grind it fresh over whatever you’re cooking that calls for pepper — you will get so much more flavor, it’s not even funny.
To take the pepper flavor up to even the next level, grab those peppercorns and leave your mill in the pantry. Don’t grind them, crush them. Use the bottom of a pot, bowl or mallet and crack apart those little balls ever so slightly. I like to contain them in a little plastic baggie so that the peppercorns don’t fly all over the kitchen. You get amazing pepper taste that becomes a featured flavor, rather than an afterthought. Salt-n-Pepa’s here in da house (sorry, I couldn’t resist)!