Marica (Piper nigrum)
- High in antioxidants
- Has anti-inflammatory properties
- May benefit your brain
- May improve blood sugar control
- May lower cholesterol levels
- May have cancer fighting properties
Black pepper also increases the absorption of essential nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. According to preliminary research, it may also promote gut health, offer pain relief, and reduce appetite.
How do you grow this plant at home?
Peppercorn seeds are widely available through online nurseries. Prior to planting the seeds, soak them overnight to soften the seed coats. Plant the seeds ¼ inch deep in a rich, well-draining potting mix. Space the seeds three inches apart. Spray the seed tray frequently with a mister to keep the starting mix moist and cover the seed tray with plastic wrap. Store it in a warm location, such as the top of the refrigerator or on top of a radiator.
Peppercorn seeds can take up to thirty days to germinate at temperatures between seventy-five and eighty-five degrees. At lower temperatures, they germinate slowly or not at all.
- Cheddar Scallion Biscuits
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup cold buttermilk, plus more for topping
¾ cup cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
4 scallions, diced
¾ cup butter, cold and cut into small cubes
Ground black pepper for topping
Place a rack in the center and lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick silicone sheet and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tarter and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Toss together cheddar cheese and scallions. Set aside.
Add butter to the flour mixture. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour, until the butter is well incorporated into the flour mixture. The flour will resemble coarse meal.
Toss the cheese and scallion mixture into the flour mixture. Create a small well in the center of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk mixture all at once. Toss together with a fork making sure that all of the flour bits are moistened by the buttermilk. This mixture will be shaggy. Dump biscuit dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead 10 times. Knead a few more times if needed or until the dough comes together. Pat the dough together into a 1½-inch thick circle.
Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut rounds. You can also use a knife to cut squares or wedges. Gather dough scraps, knead lightly, and cut out more biscuits until the batter is gone. Place biscuits on prepared baking sheets, brush with buttermilk and cracked black pepper. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the inside flaky.
- Fiery black pepper chicken
11.5 kg (3½ lb) whole free-range chicken, skinned and jointed, or 8 chicken thighs, skinned
1 tbspfreshly cracked Tellicherry or Kampot black peppercorns
1 tspground turmeric
3white onions, half roughly chopped and half thinly sliced
3garlic cloves, crushed
3 cm(1¼ inch) piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
½ tsp sea salt
steamed rice, chapattis, salad, to serve
Put the chicken in a large dish. In a small bowl, combine one-quarter of the black pepper, the turmeric, lemon juice and a pinch of salt, then rub all over the chicken and leave to marinate, covered, for a few hours.
Blend the roughly chopped onion with the garlic and ginger to make a paste.
Toast the remaining pepper in a hot, dry frying pan until there’s a delicious nutty, toasty scent and the pepper begins to smoke. Shake the pan so the pepper doesn’t burn.
Heat a good glug of oil in a heavy-based frying pan (one with a lid) and fry the sliced onion until it turns soft and golden. Add the onion paste and continue frying until all the liquid has evaporated and the onion is starting to brown.
Add the toasted pepper (reserve a generous pinch for later) and the chicken, including all the marinade juices, 300 ml water and the salt. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through – add a splash more water if the curry gets too thick.
Serve the curry sprinkled with the reserved toasted black pepper, alongside some rice, warmed chapattis and salad.
- “CACIO E PEPE” mini muffins:
130 g (3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour (or type 00)
8 g (1 Tbsp) baking powder
80 g (1 cup) Pecorino Romano, grated
20 g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or less if you like a less pronounced flavor)
1 large egg, organic, free range, lightly beaten
130 ml (1/2 cup) milk
30 ml (3 Tbsp) e.v.o. oil (or butter, melted)
Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C) and line a mini muffin tray with muffins liners.
In one large bowl mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, grated Parmigiano and Pecorino, pinch of salt and pepper.
In another bowl add the wet ingredients: the lightly beaten egg, milk, and oil (or melted butter).
Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix briefly with a spatula. Do not overwork, the dough must be lumpy.
Fill muffin liners with a tsp of batter and cook in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° F (180° C) and cook for about 10 more minutes or until nice and golden and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out dry.
Take out of the oven and set on a wire rack to cool.
Serve as is, or cut in the middle and filled with your favorite fillings.