This is a surprisingly controversial dessert. I was skeptical myself, even though I saw it discussed favorably several times on the cooking shows that are my guilty pleasure.
Coarsely ground black pepper
Wash, hull and half the strawberries as usual. Add the sugar (about ¼ cup of sugar per 2 pints of strawberries). Drizzle a little bit of balsamic onto the strawberries and mix. (About 2 tbsps vinegar per 2 pints of strawberries.)
Note: It is important not to overdo the balsamic or its flavor will unpleasantly dominate the dish and make it very tart and acidic.
Allow to stand for an hour or more.
Before serving add a very small amount of freshly ground black pepper corns. Very little, no more than a tablespoon per two pints of strawberries.
That’s it. The key to the dish is the balance of flavors. The first time I tried it, I used too much balsamic and it wasn’t very nice to eat. What seems to happen when you get it right is that the balsamic vinegar balances the sugar in such a way that you don’t taste just berry-flavored sweetness; the strawberry flavor really pops. The balsamic also combines with the sugar to glaze the strawberries with a lovely sheen. The sprinkle of pepper doesn’t make it hot; it adds depth to the flavor, with just a hint of heat.
Try it and let me know if you like it!