Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Cooking Tip of the Week (August 10, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on August 11, 2015 at 1:10 PM


Cooking with Black Pepper and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes


        Salt and black pepper are 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, “peperoncino” or crushed red pepper flakes are also added to savory dishes. Crushed red pepper flakes add “heat”, whereas black pepper adds “bite”. When used together, they add great depth and character to any savory recipe. I always add black pepper and crushed red pepper to a sautéed dish while the onions and/or garlic are sautéing in olive oil. Allowing the spices to fry in the oil helps to develop their flavors and releases their wonderful aromas. It also helps their flavors to permeate throughout the dish.


         For the best quality and flavor, purchase whole peppercorns and pound them in a mortar.  You can also grind them in a peppermill as needed while you are cooking. Pre-ground or pulverized black pepper will lose its bite as it sits for month after month in your spice rack. Hot dried chilies can also be purchased whole and ground with a mortar and pestle as needed.  

Categories: Cooking Tips

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1 Comment

Reply mariabella
11:22 PM on August 13, 2015 
great tip, using peppercorns and grinding them fresh as you need them.