Even before I finished my last smoking project I knew what the next one would be. Remember the smoked salt I made a while back? Well, it only made sense to try black pepper. Admit it . . . you saw that coming.
I searched online for information about smoking black pepper. The information was sparse, but what I did find was pretty basic. Most posts recommended cracking the peppercorns slightly before smoking. Otherwise, it was basic smoking 101.
Oh, one thing. I know a lot of you swear by Penzy’s Spices. One of the posts recommended not using those, because the flavor is too intense to take on much of a smoke flavor.
Because of pepper’s strong flavor, common sense tells you the wood chosen for smoking needs to have an intense flavor. I wanted to use mesquite, but I’m apparently out. At least I couldn’t find it. So I settled for hickory. As I did with my salt smoking, I made little pepper boats. I took the advice I found online and cracked the pepper. Some of it anyway. I cracked mine using the coarsest setting on my grinder, but you can also put it on the counter and smack it with a cast iron pan. I also went contrary to advice online—I’m such a rebel—and ground some as if I was going to use it normally.
I set the burner on low and let it smoke. I checked it after about 45 minutes, but didn’t notice much of a difference. Yes, I tasted it. I thought about turning it up, but it was smoking quite a bit on low, so I left it there. After another half hour, I checked again. It was beginning to get the aroma and taste I wanted, but it wasn’t quite there yet. Thirty minutes later, and I had what I wanted. I didn’t want the original taste of the pepper to disappear completely, but I did want the hickory to be evident. And it is. You know it’s there, but you also won’t forget it’s black pepper. The more finely ground pepper did take on a bit more hickory flavor, but I don’t notice an appreciable difference between the two.
Here is what the pepper looked like after smoking.
Don’t strain your eyes; there isn’t a lot of difference. The pepper does have a duller appearance, but that’s about it.
So how am I going to use it? My first thought is to add it to the smoked honey as mop sauce or injected marinade, probably for beef. I’m also thinking the pepper would be good as part of a coating for steak.
I’m not sure what my next smoking project will be. Maybe I’ll just have to wander the supermarket aisles to see what catches my eye.
© Copyright 2013 Ida Walker, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Enabling Cook