We’re all familiar with peppercorns. Just check your pepper shaker next to the salt on the table. That’s just crushed black peppercorns. In Puerto Rican cuisine we use whole peppercorns that are crushed in a mortar and pestle. It gives a dish that extra zing. There are also green peppercorns, which are actually unripe black peppercorns that are either dried or preserved in brine or vinegar. If using peppercorns packed in brine, they must be drained before crushing.
Green peppercorns have a milder taste than black, and they are often used in the renowned steak dish “Steak Au Poivre Vert” or Pepper Steak. But their flavor also enhances poached chicken or fish dishes. My favorite of these is Green Peppercorn and Cream Sauce It is the easiest dish to prepare and renders that classic instance of continental cuisine sure to impress your friends and co-diners.
For those of you who are wondering how to prepare poached chicken or fish. Simple: place rinsed and washed chicken (pieces or beasts) or 1½ – 2 pounds fish fillets in a skillet or pan. Season with salt, oregano or herbs of your choice. Pour about 3-inches of liquid in the pan. This could be plain water or broth. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer until fish fillets or chicken are tender, usually 5-7 minutes for fish or 10 minutes for chicken. This will render 4 servings or more. For the recipe given I used perch fillets. But any light, firm fleshed fish will do (haddock, cod, turbot, flounder, etc.)
GREEN PEPPERCORN AND CREAM SAUCE
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons green peppercorns, crushed
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
In a small skillet or pan, heat butter until melted. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Add peppercorns and heavy cream, and cook for about two minutes more. Pour sauce over poached fish or chicken, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.
Note: The recipe calls for crushing the peppercorns in a mortar. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, place peppercorns between two sheets of waxed paper and, using your palm, crush with the side of a cleaver or kitchen knife.