The Worthwhile Trick To Prepare Fresh Pepper For Grilled Steak

Fresh pepper plays an integral role in classic grilled steak. It lends a spicy, tip-of-the-tongue bite and, along with the appropriate salt (don't use table salt to season steak), creates a crusted outer layer that seals in juices and contrasts beautifully with the meat's inner tenderness. However, there's a trick to preparing the pepper to make steak even more mouthwateringly delicious — crush it yourself using a freezer bag and a pan.

To achieve the best results from freshly ground pepper, a mix of relatively small, medium, and large cracked pieces is ideal. Not only does this variance in size enhance the flavor of the steak by altering the taste a bit with each bite, but it also creates a more interesting texture. Crushing peppercorns on your own gives you more control over the outcome, unlike pepper grinders, which are designed to yield a uniform size. And, while a mortar and pestle can get the job done, this worthwhile trick is faster and easier.

Another reason for smashing peppercorns with a pan? Not everyone has the luxury of fancy kitchen tools, so it's always good practice to have a few basic techniques ready. While you might not yet wield a frying pan the way Disney's Rapunzel does, crushing peppercorns via this method could be useful in a pinch for whatever atypical cooking situation may arise (like when camping or cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen).

How to crush peppercorns without a grinder or mortar and pestle

One way to employ this clever hack is to place an ample amount of whole peppercorns inside a small resealable plastic bag — but push out the air before sealing it. Then, pulverize your peppercorns, applying pressure with the underside of a weighty pan. The key is to gently rock the pan back and forth so you end up with a mix of different size pieces, ranging from small to large. The bag helps keep things tidy. However, you can also smash the peppercorns on a cutting board sans the bag.

Another method is to use two pans that fit into each other, such as a small frying pan and a saucepan. In this case, place the peppercorns into the larger pan, set the base of the smaller one on top of the peppercorns, and crush them with the rocking motion — no bag, no mess. You can scoop them out of the pan when you need to use them.

Although many ingredients can be used to elevate your steak and switch things up on occasion, it's hard to go wrong with a good cut of meat seasoned simply with salt and freshly ground pepper, made especially delectable using this quick trick. Classics endure for a reason.