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John Hagan

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conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by John Hagan » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:44 am

I have a question regarding adding pepper to meat,say a steak, prior to grilling. Almost without exception you see folks salt and pepper their steaks before grilling or searing. I can fully understand the salt and what it does to the meat.Plus, salts a rock and the heat should not affect it in anyway. Pepper,in my thinking will either lose its aromatic oils, or will just get burnt. I admit Ive salted and pepper my steaks prior to going down on the grill, but recently I began question this practice.
Any thoughts?
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Deb Hall » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:39 am

Johm,

We personally salt only- always have based on advice from Julia Child and Jacque Pepin. But while your thought makes sense, many restaurants serve peppercorn -encrusted steaks and that doesn't seems to be a problem.
I found this on a Culinary Arts site:

Freshly Ground Black Pepper
There's another debate about seasoning steaks, and this one relates to black pepper. To begin with, let's agree that freshly ground black pepper is a must for the perfect steak.

One school of thought suggests that applying the pepper before cooking means that the pepper will actually burn while you cook it, imparting a bitter flavor to the steak. They suggest grinding some black pepper on to the steaks after searing them, or right before serving them. The other school simply seasons their steak with freshly ground black pepper before cooking and is done with it.

Who's right? It's not that the notion of burning pepper is complete nonsense — in theory, yes, black pepper could burn. The problem with seasoning with pepper midway through the cooking is that the pepper granules may not stick to the meat. The solution could be to pass a pepper grinder at the table, but if you're cooking outside and eating in an informal style, this might not be feasible.

So unless you've detected a burnt pepper flavor on your steaks in the past, by all means go ahead and season your steaks with freshly ground black pepper before cooking them.
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Robin Garr » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:19 pm

John, it seems to me that the enduring popularity of steak au poivre sufficiently answers this question: In practice, crusting a steak with coarsely cracked peppercorns before grilling, pan-searing or roasting results in a delicious steak. 8)
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Ken B » Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:39 pm

I believe steak au poivre typically calls for pan searing, rather than grilling or other methods. Since the steak would be pan seared in butter (again, I'm working on the assumption of a classical French approach), my guess is the smoke point of the oils in the pepper would not be lower than that of the butter, which has a relatively low smoke point. But I think grilling would be somewhat different, though most folks at home probably don't get their grills as hot as they can go. Still probably hotter than you'd get a skillet for searing though.

Some further thoughts. I always just use salt, even though I've seen some pro chefs advise against even that. Then I pepper the top of the steak/burger once I make the first flip, so the pepper's on there while the meat is on the stove, but not exposed to direct heat. My thinking is that most of the flavor/aroma from pepper comes from oils, so you want that to be released by the heat. But I almost always cook steaks and burgers at as high a heat as I can, so I have the same concerns about burning the peppercorns. It always works for me.
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Steve P » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:38 pm

Chef Michael Simon...a great Chef (and fellow Buckeye) salt and peppers his steak before cooking, therefore I shall salt and pepper my steak :D
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by John Hagan » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:27 am

Ive done a bit more reading on this and have come to the conclusion that yes pepper does burn. I also think that we tend to enjoy the flavor of burned pepper,a good example being steak au poivre. I agree with Steve P that Michael Simon is a killer chef,but I also think its worth pointing out that other notable chefs such as NY city's Jean François Bruel of Daniel is in the camp that steak should never seasoned with pepper prior to cooking.
The tall one wants white toast, dry, with nothin' on it.
And the short one wants four whole fried chickens, and a Coke.
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Steve P » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:39 pm

John Hagan wrote:..."such as NY city's"...
There is your answer right there. YOU listen to a New Yorker if you want to. Me ? I'm going with the midwestern guy with the goofy laugh. :D

BTW...by comparison, we use copious amounts of pepper in our BBQ rub...yes in some applications (Brisket for example) it burns, yes it tastes good.
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Steve P » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:37 pm

I salted and peppered a couple of Greg Norman Signature Wagyu Sirloin Steaks (from Jungle Jim's) before slapping them on the Barbie last night. They were awesome, among the best steaks I've ever had.
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Gary Guss » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:42 pm

Please send over some grilled Wagyu steaks so I can make a comparison on peppered vs. non-peppered. We can solve this question today ! ! No there is no need to thank me.

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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by John Hagan » Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:50 am

Just for the record, I was neither advocating or condemning the practice of peppering steak prior to cooking. I was just bringing it up for the sake of discussion.
And yes, a couple of (well peppered) wagyu steaks off the grill sounds great....but WTF is Greg Norman doing in the beef business?
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Deb Hall » Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:29 am

John Hagan wrote:Just for the record, I was neither advocating or condemning the practice of peppering steak prior to cooking. I was just bringing it up for the sake of discussion.
And yes, a couple of (well peppered) wagyu steaks off the grill sounds great....but WTF is Greg Norman doing in the beef business?


He is already in the wine business ( and the stuff is good :D ). I think he owns a ranch in Australia. This from his Waygu site:
As a young man, I grew up around cattle stations in Australia's north. I worked on one of those stations - mustering cattle and rounding up strays.

Today, AAco and I are working together to bring you some of the best in steak. Established in 1824, AAco is a world-leading beef producer, with over half a million cattle under its management in Australia's north
.

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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Brad Keeton » Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:02 pm

Deb Hall wrote:
John Hagan wrote:Just for the record, I was neither advocating or condemning the practice of peppering steak prior to cooking. I was just bringing it up for the sake of discussion.
And yes, a couple of (well peppered) wagyu steaks off the grill sounds great....but WTF is Greg Norman doing in the beef business?


He is already in the wine business ( and the stuff is good :D ). I think he owns a ranch in Australia. This from his Waygu site:
As a young man, I grew up around cattle stations in Australia's north. I worked on one of those stations - mustering cattle and rounding up strays.

Today, AAco and I are working together to bring you some of the best in steak. Established in 1824, AAco is a world-leading beef producer, with over half a million cattle under its management in Australia's north
.

Deb


He's invovled in a ton of different business ventures, from wine to real estate to clothing. I think the guy's damn near a billionaire by this point, with the vast majority of it coming well after his golfing glory days were over.
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Adam Robinson » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:32 am

I had the salt and pepper debate, until I remembered my extended family just puts A1 on everything and wants their meat well done, and it therefore doesn't matter whether I pre-pepper, post-pepper, or perhaps even douse my steaks with orange juice and sprite. :(

/Really did have to grill a nice filet mignon "really well done" for them once.
//Now they get sirloin.
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Shane Campbell » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:47 am

Adam Robinson wrote:I had the salt and pepper debate, until I remembered my extended family just puts A1 on everything and wants their meat well done, and it therefore doesn't matter whether I pre-pepper, post-pepper, or perhaps even douse my steaks with orange juice and sprite. :(

/Really did have to grill a nice filet mignon "really well done" for them once.
//Now they get sirloin.



This is too funny! I think we must be related. I don't think I've ever cooked a steak for my extended family that didn't have to go back on the grill or the microwave! Don't even get me started on the evil A-1.
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Re: conventional wisdom ..pepper and grilled meat ?

by Ken B » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:23 pm

Shane Campbell wrote: Don't even get me started on the evil A-1.


As much as I can be a snob about all kinds of food stuff, I do like A-1. And I really like Heinz 57. For real.
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