Chef’s Spice Rack: Peppercorns
Pepper, like salt, is one of the fundamental seasoning element used in almost every recipe, including some desserts. Salts and peppers need each others assistance and support to reach their full potential.
What is a Peppercorn? A peppercorn is the fruit (seed of the fruit) grown on various vines found predominately in tropic climates.
The Many Colors of Pepper
Black peppercorns are cooked and dried, the cooking process makes for a darker finished product. Black pepper is the most universally common of all peppercorn. Black pepper works well with most heavy meats… beef, lamb and chicken; in this application it works very well as a cracked black pepper crust.
White peppercorns are fully mature. The dried exterior fruit skin is removes and only the seed/peppercorn remains. I prefer to use white pepper for sauces and dressings as it adds that essential peppery balance while not adding or altering the intended color of said sauces and dressings.
Green peppercorns are under-ripe berries. Sometimes sold in dried form, but most commonly preserved in a brine and marketed as green peppercorns in brine. Briny green peppercorns work well in sauces paired with heavy red meats and game. Brandy green peppercorn sauce with roasted lamb leg… yum!
Pink peppercorns are the berries from a shrub (Peruvian pepper tree) that is a closer relative to the cashew than that of the peppercorn. Pink peppercorns are marketed as peppercorns due to there small round peppercorn(ish) appearance and for there mild peppery flavor. Pink pepper works very well with seafood; the pink specks in conjunction with the sweet and mild flavor of this peppercorn is the perfect shade of subtle for seafood applications.