Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Cooking Tip of the Week (927/2011)

Posted by Bill Abruzzo on September 21, 2011 at 3:15 PM


A Few Words About Cooking with Black Pepper and Crushed Dried Chili Flakes


       Salt and black pepper are the two basic components that bring life to any savory dish.  To put it simply, without these ingredients, any savory Italian dish will taste flat. In southern Italy, crushed dried chili flakes called "pepperoncino" are also added to savory dishes.  Crushed dried chili flakes add “heat”, whereas black pepper adds “bite”.  When used together, they add great depth and character to any savory recipe. When using crushed dried chili flakes or black pepper in a sautéed dish, I always add it while the onions and/or garlic are sautéing in olive oil. Allowing the pepper to sizzle in the oil  for a minute or two helps to develop the flavor.

       For the best quality and flavor, purchase whole peppercorns and grind them in a peppermill  as you cook. Pre-ground or pulverized black pepper will lose its bite while sitting in your spice rack. Hot dried chilies can be purchased whole and ground with a mortar and pestle as needed. The pre-crushed chili flakes tend to keep their flavor better than pre-ground black pepper.  However, if it sits in your cupboard too long, it will lose some of its zing.

 


Categories: Cooking Tips

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1 Comment

Reply mariabella
5:14 PM on October 1, 2011 
Very interesting, thanks for this tip. You are absolutely right, using fresh peppercorns and grinding them as I cook really makes a difference in the flavor.

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Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased pie dish or baking sheet, and then remove the wrap. Its quick and easy! 

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