The maple connoisseur in my family is my husband. It is with great pride that he was able to wean me off of imitation maple syrup and onto the real stuff. Now I’m a convert and the worst kind of zealot. I can’t image not using the real stuff for my pancakes, over ice cream or in recipes.
Other maple products have thus far eluded me even though there are many to choose from in Maine. There was even a limited edition craft beer release of Maple Sunday from Lone Pine Brewing that was released this year on Maine Maple Sunday. I blogged about Maine Maple Sunday during last year’s challenge with my post #atozchallenge | C is for Coopers Maple Products and Maine Maple Sunday.
Last month, with St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, I decided to try out Highland Foods Maple PepperTM and cook the Guinness Beef Stew recipe listed on their blog. Highland Foods has been making maple pepper for thirty years and they sell three types: garlic, original and habanero. I used the original maple pepper for my beef stew. The original flavor is made with 100% pure maple sugar, sea salt and black pepper along with a few other ingredients.
I’ve made crock pot beef stew for years, but was getting a little tired of the recipe I was using and my last few attempts had left the meat a little dry so I was ready to change it up. I was following along with the recipe using my phone screen which was hard to read, so I confused the order of things a bit, but that’s the beauty of cooking with a crock pot: there’s flexibility.
A couple of quick notes on my cooking sessions –
- I wasn’t sure how much Maple Pepper to add to the recipe. I liberally spiced the meat both before, during and after browning. I included it in the gravy as outlined in the recipe. I also added some to the overall dish once everything was combined in the crock pot. Basically, I used a lot of Maple Pepper.
- I opted to brown my onions before adding to the crock pot even though the recipe didn’t call for it. I think it makes them a bit more flavorful.
- I had to brown the meat in three shifts and not in one session as it wouldn’t all fit in the pan. It also threw off the order of some of the other steps for me.
- I did burn the garlic even though the recipe specifically tells you not to. This was not intentional, just poor planning. Fortunately, the garlic was salvageable and went into the recipe anyway. It tasted fine.
- This recipe took about twice as long as my previous crock pot beef stew to prep. There were a few more steps, and some simmering time during the gravy preparation which I think added greatly to the end result but just be ready for it to take a little longer.
The end result was delicious! The meat stayed much moister than my other recipe which I think was a combination of stirring everything up a bit during the cooking time, and the richer more extensive gravy prep. The meat was melt off the fork tender. My husband made an Irish Soda Bread to go with it which was perfect for catching every last drop of the gravy.
As for the Highland Maple Pepper, I could definitely taste the pepper in the final stew and the maple added a subtle sweetness which I thought was perfect. It was not a distraction, but complemented the mix of flavors. I think the maple pepper was a good spice for this dish but I’m looking forward to trying the Highland Foods Maple Pepper on something else where I’ll get even more of the flavor. The corn on the cob option sounds especially intriguing. With summer cookout season rapidly approaching, I’m sure I’ll get a chance.
Do you think you would like maple pepper? Do you have a favorite, unique seasoning that you use?
|things to know|
|Name||Highland Foods | Maple Pepper|
|Location||508 Sheepscot Road
Newcastle, Maine 04553
|Website||Highland Foods, LLC.|
|Favorite ♥||100% Pure Maple Sugar|