“This stuff tastes great! What’d you put in it?”
You may have experienced that glorious moment where you’ve tasted what may as well be the best dish on earth and you can’t help but ask why it tastes so good. What is that key ingredient or ingredients that makes that mouth-watering dish so appetizing? Or why is it that when you make mashed potatoes and steak or grilled vegetables it never tastes that good?
After suddenly asking such a question, you’re answered with a simple reply.
Salt and pepper.
That seems pretty simple since you cook with these spices all the time. Of course, these two always go hand-in-hand, so how can you not? Then, it suddenly dawns on you that you’ve cooked mashed potatoes, steak, and grilled vegetables before and you have always used salt and pepper but maybe you used too much or too little. Regardless of the matter, you still wonder how your best friend’s signature dish tastes better than yours.
Truthfully, we would all love to know the secret to baking a great pot pie like our grandmother or cooking a delicious plate of mashed potatoes, steak, and grilled vegetables like our best friend. But sometimes, the secret is simply in the freshness of our ingredients and the items we use.
It may not seem like choosing fresh ingredients over canned or packaged ones cause a huge difference in the flavor of a dish, but in reality it does. In fact, many people are turning towards cooking and consuming organic whole products for this same reason and of course, for the benefit of bettering health problems.
Canned and processed foods, for example, tend to be higher in sodium, sugar, and carbohydrates. Not to mention that they carry some of the most harmful ingredients to the body such as high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, artificial colors and sweeteners. And in most cases, these packaged goods don’t taste all that great. On the contrary, raw and organic foods are free of harsh chemicals and packaging as they are grown in rich and natural soil.
Enhance the flavor of your dishes
That’s why many people feel drawn towards using salt and pepper grinders because they agree that whole, unrefined sea salt and peppercorns enhance the flavor of their dishes. Many people also enjoy the hand maneuver of grinding their own salts. Not to mention that by grinding these spices, you are releasing its aroma, giving your dish an extremely fresh flavor during its preparation. As opposed to organic salt, store bought, ground salt can clump. You won’t find this problem with whole salts, regardless of your preferences.
Most salt and pepper grinders are also filled with nutritious, organic, and hand harvested sea salt and peppercorns that are naturally dried. They also provide a distinction of flavors that can be used in a grinder or for cooking as they easily melt with heat and humidity.
So how is it that grinding whole spices can create such an impact on food? The key is in its design. The grinder mill, invented by Peugeot in the mid-1800’s, has a simple design which hasn’t changed much since then. Whole salts or peppercorns are supplied into the grind mechanism and when the grinder is twisted, it cracks and crushes the two spices into a thin dust, liberating oils and in turn adding zest to the food. No wonder your best friend uses freshly ground salt and pepper to create his or her signature dish!
Now that you know the secret to cooking great mashed potatoes and steak with grilled vegetables, you are convinced that salt and pepper grinders are your new best friends but you have never used one. The only real problem in choosing a grinder is selecting one that is worth your budget, not really utilizing one.
Most salt and pepper grinders are made of high-carbon steel or ceramic. Since steel is extremely sharp and ceramic is tough, both materials are used to crush salt. However, acrylic mechanisms are much weaker than case-hardened steel and ceramic and because of its brittleness, it is possible that flakes can fall into your food. No one wants to find chips of acrylic on their plate so, on your next shopping spree, make sure to choose a pepper mill that has steel or ceramic grinders. The rest is pretty simple. The knob, also known as the crank, usually rests at the top of the mill. It has a spindle that passes through a central chamber. The shaft helps guide the whole spices into a burr grinder that is placed inside a toothed outer ring. This grinder has multiple sharp rows of teeth that can be adjusted to make the gap larger or smaller to create a thin or coarse grind. Once the salts or peppercorns pass through the cap, they are crushed then turned into a fine dust. The only thing you have to do is position the grinder over your food and crank. The rest is done for you.
Since you’ve learned the secret to a great seasoning as well as using a salt and pepper grinder, maybe it’s time to create your own signature dish or simply follow one and boast about it! Tony Danza shares his scrumptious recipe of Sausage, Peppers, and Onions in his book Don’t Fill Up On the Antipasto.
Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
12 hot or sweet Italian sausages
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
4 green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into strips
1 large onion, sliced
Salt and freshly ground peppercorns
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Prick the sausages all over with a fork. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the sausages and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes, reducing the heat to medium-high as the sausages cook. Put the peppers and onion in a large baking pan. Drizzle with the remaining oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and toss well. Add the sausages to the pan and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes. The peppers should be tender but not mushy.
Serves 4 to 6.