Very Simple…In Carmel Valley It’s Either Black or White

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Salt & Pepper | Dave CleggThis ubiquitous duo are used in almost every recipe, yes, even in many desserts.  They are found on practically every table at every Carmel Valley restaurant and on most tables when we eat at home.  Yes, in some form, salt and pepper are everywhere food is prepared or consumed.  They are the universal seasonings.  So let’s take a closer look at the two things we routinely eat in some form almost daily and can be readily found in every Carmel Valley food store.


  • The use of salt dates back to 6000 years B.C.
  • Salt is a chemical compound, composed of a crystal called sodium chloride, and made of the elements sodium and chlorine.
  • Salt is essential to all forms of life in small quantities but can be harmful in excess.
  • Salt is one of the five tastes recognized by the human senses, salt, bitter, sour, sweet and umani.
  • Salt stimulates the taste buds of the tongue to their maximum, hence MAKING THINGS TASTE BETTER.  This is why sooooooo many recipes include salt.
  • There are many types of salt including unrefined, refined, and gourmet salts.
  • At Carmel Valley Kitchen, we like to use “kosher salt” found in any Carmel Valley grocery store.

So the basic reason we use salt to season our food is because it makes it taste better.  Pepper on the other hand is a completely different animal.


  • Pepper is a plant that grows in tropical climates.  It takes three to four years to produce the berries that we call peppercorns.
  • Depending on when they are picked, peppercorns come in green, white, and black.
  • Pepper was once presented to the “gods” as a sacred offering.
  • Eating pepper, improves digestion and promotes intestinal health by stimulating the taste buds to alert the stomach to increase digestive secretions thereby improving digestion.
  • Pepper prevents the formation of intestinal gas (a good thing).  And it also promotes the body’s ability to eliminate unwanted waste products.
  • Pepper is an antioxidant and antibacterial.
  • Pepper stimulates the breakdown of fat cells, keeping you slim while giving you energy to burn.
  • The best way to use pepper as a spice in recipes is to grind the peppercorns from a pepper grinder each time it’s used.

Here are a few suggestions for using of salt and pepper that you may not have thought about…


Brining promotes a change in the structure of the proteins in the muscle.  Many have attributed the added juiciness of brined pork chops to osmosis—the flow of water across a barrier from a place with a higher water concentration (the brine) to a place with a lower one (the pork).  The end result is moister more flavorful meat.  Turkey is also a candidate for brining.



  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt (or 1/4 cup table salt)
  • 10 medium cloves garlic , crushed
  • 4 bay leaves , crumbled
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns , crushed
  • 4 bone-in rib loin pork chops (12-ounces each), 1 1/2-inches-thick
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • In gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve sugar and salt in 2 cups hot water.  Add garlic, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, and 4 cups cold water; cool mixture to room temperature.  Add pork chops, then seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour, turning bag once.  Remove chops from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  • Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place shallow roasting pan or jelly-roll pan on oven rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees.  When oven reaches 450 degrees, heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes.  Place chops in skillet; cook until well-browned and nice crust has formed on surface, about 2 minutes.  Turn chops over with tongs; cook until well-browned and a nice crust has formed on second side, about 2 minutes longer.  Using tongs, transfer chops to preheated pan in oven. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each chop registers 125–127 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes, turning chops over once halfway through cooking time.  Transfer each chop to platter; cover loosely with foil (be sure not to wrap foil tightly around meat), and let rest about 5 minutes. (Check internal temperature; it should register about 145 degrees).  Garnish with your favorite condiment or sauce.  Recipe courtesy AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN.


Grind a little over a scoop of chocolate ice cream, add it to spice cake batter and cookie dough, grind over strawberries, melon or peaches with just a few drops of a good balsamic vinegar.


Carmel Valley San Diego Community | David Clegg | Community Contributor

David Clegg

Dave Clegg is a self-taught amateur chef and recipe creator who has always been inspired by his mom’s great cooking.  He has been cooking for over 40 years and has lived in Carmel Valley with his family since 1985.  He created “Carmel Valley Kitchen” as a way to share his passion.

Dave was recently selected as a semifinalist in the “Next Great! News Instructor Cooking Challenge” and his basic cheese cake took third place at the 2011 San Diego County Fair.  Dave has a comprehensive knowledge of ingredients, equipment and cooking techniques that he is always happy to share.


Carmel Valley San Diego Community | RIDE Cyclery Encinitas

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