Like discoveries in other experimental fields, the ones that happen in the kitchen are often rooted in mistakes. When way too many black peppercorns got dumped into hot oil for a pre-bean fry, it seemed they were lost. What to do with a pile of soggy greasy peppercorns?
We got to thinking about pepper and what it is: the aged berries from an epic spice tree originating in Indonesia. Black peppercorns are actually sun cured green peppercorns, and white ones are just black peppercorns that have been soaked, skinned and dried again.
While we didn’t follow through with the initial idea to make our own white pepper, we figured we could re-dry the soggy dudes in a low oven to revive them. The result ruled: the pepper reabsorbed the tasty oil and intensified its new and improved flavor. Ever vigilant for ways to put liquor we love back into the food we eat, we postulated that we could do the same with Bourbon, Mescal, and just about any other type of liquor.
The result is the same; by investing a pony of your favorite sauce, you can elevate the contents of your pepper mill to dizzying heights. You also will make your house smell like a distillery for an hour or two, and your roommates, if you have them, will be wandering round looking for phantom whiskey spills, but this technique will make soups, salads, fresh cheeses and eggs have that hair-of-the-dog flavor that you’ve been missing. Booze infusion is the new Umami!
3 Tsp. Whole Black Pepper
1 Shot Booze
Small Sauce Pot
1. Heat the sauce pot on medium heat and lightly toast the pepper for 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Dump in your shot of booze. We’ve had great success with Bourbon, and Mescal but use whatever you like. The liquor should begin cooking off immediately, but you don’t want it to burn, so turn the heat as low as you can to keep the liquid bubbling.
3. When the liquid is completely evaporated and absorbed, turn off the heat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (do yourself a favor and go buy a roll its really indispensable) and spread the peppercorns out evenly.
4. Bake in a low oven, around 250 degrees, for thirty minutes. You want the pepper to be completely dry. During the infusion process the peppercorns will swell with liquid and loose their dried look, when they’ve dried completely they will look exactly as they did before you subjected them to a whiskey bath.
5. You’re done! Let the pepper cool and find something to put them on!