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Feb 11, 2008 12:04 PM

Pink Peppercorns

I have a vague memory of a pasta dish I had in Cortona Italy. It had pink peppercorns in a cream/cheese sauce on ravioli. The only other thing I remember was there was a citrus element in either the sauce or in the ravioli. (we had two dishes, one with orange and one with lemon, I'm leaning towards this one being lemon within the sauce)

I really enjoyed the pink peppercorns (I know they aren't actually peppercorns but the fruit of the Baies Rose plant). They were tender and complemented the citrus flavor really well.

I have looked for some recipes that approximated this dish but haven't had any success. I'd love to hear of anyone who has had something similar or has ideas on some tasty approaches on this general idea.

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  1. That sounds great. I recently tried pink peppercorns in a pork loin recipe from Gourmet. They were incredibly good. I wish I could give you some help on the recipe.

    1. In various places I've been in Italy, some portion of fruit is fairly common in ravioli. The one I've seen the most is pecorino cheese with pears. Given they offered an dish with orange and one with lemon I would suspect it was in the sauce.

      I think you could make a decent effort at recreating the sauce though. I would just heat some heavy cream in a saucepan and add either grated parmagiano reggiano, pecorino romano or grana padano until you're happy with the consistency. Then, slowly begin adding lemon zest and stir it for a minute or two and see how you like it. Add more if needed and add the pink peppercorns to finish the dish.

      1. Thanks for the input.... on the peppercorns will they become tender by just adding them at the end? Aren't they pretty hard straight out of the spice jar? I thought there might be some more elements into cooking them... I personally haven't dealt with them at all.

        My mom was able to help with the description as she remembered it:

        Ravioli, filled with ricotta and orange, with a lemon and red peppercorn sauce. The sauce had thin strips of orange and lemon rind.

        I don't remember it being overly heavy. All the cheese and cream would seem to make it quite a heavy dish don't you think? maybe a white wine cream sauce? But with citrus? what type of wine? Probably something dry from Tuscany I suppose.

        4 Replies
        1. re: babaoriley7

          I'm not sure what to look for in making a light cream sauce. I've found several recipes, they almost all use a base of heavy cream... is that going to make the sauce quite heavy?

          Does anyone know of a method for making a delicate light cream sauce (so my wife will eat it!) I'm not a afraid of a little butter/cream but I'd like it to be tasty and not tasting like it was made by Jenny Craig.

          1. re: babaoriley7

            The whole thing is more art than science or chemistry. If you want to lighten the sauce or make it less viscous then you could use a wine or a stock. If you're using wine though, you're going to want to burn off the alcohol.

            If I was making a lighter sauce for this I might saute some shallot, deglaze the pan with wine or stock then stir in cream and just get it to the point that it coats a spoon or add the grated cheese to thicken it a bit. IMO, the pink peppercorns while adding a sweet peppery flavor are not meant to be cooked down until they disintigrate, they add color and a flourish.

            1. re: Den

              no such thing as 'burning off alcohol' . Light it on fire - the volume will reduce but the concentration will be the same.

              1. re: Den

                So pretty much no cooking on the pink peppercorns? I'm going to have to try this sometime soon.

                Thanks for the tips.

          2. So I think the sauce is easy enough... what about the filling for the ravioli?

            Is it as simple as mixing ricotta with orange zest? Thoughts on ways to improve upon that?

            1 Reply
            1. re: babaoriley7

              Try making a cream reduction by using 2 cups of heavy cream, add 1 clove of garlic, a sprig of thyme, about 2 or 3 of the peppercorns, a 1/2 inch by 1 inch piece of lemon zest (no pith) and a pinch of salt. Let this simmer over a very low flame until reduced by nearly half (or you can get a streak across a wooden spoon to hold that has been dipped in the cream and swiped by your finger.)
              Then experiment. If when the cream is reduced, the peppercorns are soft, and just the way you like them, then you can always blanch the rest of the peppercorns in simmering water and throw them in right at the end. (I wouldn't use too many).
              When the cream is done, smush through a sieve to get all the now very soft garlic, taste for salt, and keep warm or reheat when you are ready. Grate a handful of grana padana. Cook the ravioli (if you are making them yourself, just add a little orange zest to the ricotta mix and maybe a bit of fresh thyme--I doubt that they would use fresh thyme in Cortona--I have never known anyone to--but it will taste good as long as you go sparingly). Drain well, and over a low flame, mix with the cream gently, add a tiny bit of very finely chopped parsley, and a scatter of lemon and orange zest (go easy) and off the flame, the parm.

            2. Don't know if this/these are what you're loolking for, but a Google search turned up these 'pink peppercorn' recipes from...


              Pink Peppercorn Recipes

              Pink pepper is an ingredient in some Chilean wines and has numerous medical properties.

              Pink Peppercorn Sauce

              2 1/2 teaspoons butter

              1 teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns

              1 teaspoon finely chopped pimentos

              1 teaspoon finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes

              4 ounce heavy cream

              Melt butter in saucepan (or use it to deglaze a pan), add peppercorns, pimentos, and sun-dried tomatoes, cook a couple of minutes stirring continuously. Slowly stir in heavy cream and reduce to desired thickness.

              Serve warm

              Pink Peppercorn Chicken

              4 boneless chicken breasts
              2 cups dry white wine
              5 medium leeks, rinsed and julienne in 1-inch strips
              2 tablespoons rosemary
              2 tablespoons pink peppercorns
              2 tablespoons unsalted butter

              Trim chicken breasts of any excess fat, place between 2 sheets of waxed paper and pound to an even thickness. Place flattened breasts into a shallow pan and cover with white wine. Marinate for 1 hour.

              Place the leeks beneath the chicken breasts in a shallow pan. Sprinkle each with 1/2 tablespoon of rosemary and 1/2 tablespoon peppercorns.

              Bake at 350 degrees until done.

              Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette


              1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
              2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
              3 Tablespoons olive oil
              2 small shallots, very thinly minced
              2 Tablespoons pink peppercorns, finely ground
              Freshly ground pepper
              1/2 Tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
              1. Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil together.

              2. Add the chopped parsley and pink peppercorns.

              3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

              And, Google search link of 'recipes with pink peppercorns'...