There is something amazingly comforting about a really good peppercorn sauce. I can't think of a better mid-winter food to eat with steak, mash potato and a good glass of wine.
I think it's a little sad that green peppercorn sauce has gone out of vogue, it's been a long time since I have seen it on a menu. But maybe it's not a bad thing. There are so many horrible 'pepper sauce' kits in the supermarket, full of freeze-dried powders that are packed with thickeners, preservatives and additives. I can't stand store bought gravy, why would I ruin a perfectly good stab of protein with a chemical filled gelatinous sauce?
Peppercorns aid in digestion and reduce gas by stimulating the taste buds, which signals the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid. High in iron, vitamin K, manganese and antioxidants, pepper has been used in Ayurveda medicine to treat bacterial growth in the intestine, diarrohea, and other stomach and digestion aliments. Pepper is also widely used in the cosmetics industry and is touted for it's weight-loss properties. The skin of the peppercorn aids in stimulating the breakdown of fat cells, and is often ground and rubbed directly into the skin to reduce cellulite.
For that lovely fresh piquant flavor, a great pepper sauce should use fresh or brined green peppercorns, a really good quality beef stock and fresh full-fat cream. Mushrooms are entirely optional!
Green Peppercorn Mushroom Sauce- Serves 2
- 8 Swiss brown mushrooms, quartered (or portabello's)
- 30g of green peppercorns (drained if in brine)
- 5 garlic cloves, sliced
- 100mL of dry sherry
- 100mL of beef stock
- 100mL of cream
- generous knob of butter
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- salt to taste
- Add your olive oil to a skillet on medium-high heat. Toss in your halved (or quartered) mushrooms and fry for a minute or two. Add in your knob of butter and keep your mushrooms moving while it melts. Add a little pinch of salt - this stimulates the mushroom juices.
- Your mushrooms should start to brown and release their juices. Toss in the garlic and fry for a minute. Pour in a little of your sherry; just enough to cover the pan. After a minute or two the sherry should reduce and thicken. Add a little more of your sherry and allow it to reduce again.
- Add in your stock, and allow the sauce to reduce again. Add your remaining sherry and allow the sauce to reduce again. Toss in your peppercorns.
- Start adding a little of your cream at a time. It should start to form bubbles – this is good, it’s starting to thicken.
- Add the last portion of cream before you are ready to serve. Add salt to taste and serve immediately.
Green Peppercorn Sauce is of course fantastic with steak, lamb, pork, veal, venison and even chicken. If you're a vegetarian, this sauce is also fabulous with sweet potato fries, polenta cakes, green beans, spinach and steamed milk thistle. Enjoy!