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    Entries in himalayan pink (1)


    Salt and Pepper. No not the band.

    Salt and pepper have really evolved from your Grandma's poodle shaped salt shaker with ioidine-laced table salt and pre-ground pepper in a spice can.  A jog through the local grocery store can usually yield at least Coarse Kosher Salt and perhaps exotic varieties such as Himalayan Pink Salt (our personal fave).  Your grocer may even have coarse sea salts, and perhaps a smoked salt, or maybe even a red or black salt from Hawaii. 

    This article in the Atlantic presents the joys of fancy salts, including some information from the book Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes by Mark Bitterman.  Our only beef with the Atlantic article is that the author failed to mention the joys of Himalayan pink salt, except in passing.  We highly recommend it.  Bitterman says to avoid coarse sea salts from San Francisco.  Noted. 

    Black pepper is on every table, everywhere, for a reason.  It adds it's special bite to about any savory dish one would want to consume, and some dishes such as Peppercorn Steak (recipe below) make it the entire show.  Historically, black pepper was as valuable as gold and was even part of the ransom of Rome when it was sacked in 410 A.D. by the Goths.  Who knew Goths had such good taste?   

    If you are still getting your pepper out of a can, just STOP.  Go get a pepper mill (grinder) loaded with black pepper already.  Why are you still reading this?  Okay, you can leave after you finish this post.  

    Pepper is the key ingredient in meat spice rubs, the go-to spice to dress a salad, and some people even use it in desserts like ice cream and lime and pepper cookies.  Go figure. 

    Cook's Illustrated reviewed many different peppers and seemed to lean heavily toward the Indian Tellicherry peppercorns as the preferred type to buy if you are going to be using peppercorns as a main ingredient.  If you are just using pepper in small amounts, regular peppercorns will suffice. 

    Now go get that peppercorn mill!! 


    Steak au Poivre Recipe

    (Peppercorn steak)

    Soundtrack: ”Push it” by Salt-N-Pepa

    2 thick USDA Select steaks
    2 tablespoons cracked Tellicherry black peppercorns
    Butter or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    2 cloves garlic
    1 tablespoon minced shallots
    2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
    1/2 cup tablespoons red wine
    1/2 cup heavy cream

    You are going to need to crack the pepper corns, yet not have them fly everywhere.  The best way is a mortar and pestle, however, you can also place the peppercorns into a plastic bag and crack them with a rolling pin or even lightly with a hammer.  Mr. Mechanic, if you use the hammer, clean the oily damn thing first, capiche?  Also, be aware of the surface you are pounding on, so you do not dent or break it and have your spouse beat you to death with your meat hammer.  We want not culinary murders on our hands.

    Remove the cracked peppercorns from the bag and press them into the steaks on both sides.  Heat the butter or olive oil in a heavy skillet and sear the steaks on high heat till browned.  Now, reduce the heat to medium and cook till medium-doneness.  Well-done steak is an abomination unto the gods.  You should only have to flip the steak once and you DO NOT want to use a fork to do it, use tongs or a wooden spoon.  Remove the steak from the pan with the tongs, plate them, and let the steak rest for FIVE minutes before you so much as show it to a knife or fork.  No exceptions.  Those yummy juices will flow out of the steak if it does not rest for five minutes.

    Add shallots and garlic to pan and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the shallots go from white to clear.  Add brandy and wine and then boil while stirring for three or four minutes or so to reduce the sauce.  Reduce the heat a little and add the heavy cream to the pan, then heat till the sauce is warmed again.  Pour sauce over steaks and serve.

    Image: Catherine Hadler /