Get Cookin’

The more I do it, the more I become an advocate of salting my meats before cooking. There’s a quadruple benefit to doing it.

First, salt enhances the flavor and acts as a tenderizer. Every chef knows that. I can assure you that any meat that you eat out will have been salted in advance if the kitchen knows anything about food chemistry.

More importantly, salt converts what would otherwise be un-chewable ligaments and tendons into digestible liquid protein. More bang for your buck there. And in the process, makes your meats juicier.

Let’s summarize. Salt:

  • Enhances flavor
  • Tenderizes
  • Makes digestible the protein in ligaments and tendons and
  • Adds moisture

So how much salt should be applied and for how long before cooking? If you’re talking about a big piece of meat like a roast or a chicken, I cover it thoroughly with coarse kosher or sea salt for at least an hour. But 24 hours is not too long.

If you’re talking about a thinly-sliced cutlet, I use a finer grind salt on one side only and let it work for thirty minutes. Here’s the good news if you worry about the taste of salt. Any salt that is not absorbed by the meat can be rinsed off. It is the salt that is absorbed by the meat that is giving you the 4-prong advantage.

Health Buzz

Take it for whatever you think it’s worth from the world of recent health studies.

  • the best time of the day to exercise is in the morning before you eat. Your body is in a fasting mode so more fat is burned off at that time…
  • salt has no discernible relationship to heart disease…
  • and coffee may reduce your chance of skin cancer.

Who knows?

Salt: The Most Versatile Seasoning

What is the most important seasoning in your pantry? Salt. Nothing else rivals what salt will do for meat or vegetables.

I don’t understand how it does it but salt develops the flavor of whatever food it contacts. (My father even sprinkled it on watermelon. Try it sometimes.) If you’re using it to enhance meats, sprinkle it on heavy well in advance of cooking, up to 24 hours but anything starting at one hour and up will make everything better. Here’s the rule: Any salt that remains on the outside of the meat should be removed before cooking because it will make the meat taste salty. But any salt that is absorbed by the meat will not, and will enhance the flavor. Trust me on this: you cannot put it on too thick so long as you follow this rule. And an extra that salt gives you is that it retards bacterial growth if you happen to have any.

We have it in every form. Kosher, sea and iodized. Coarse, medium and fine. I keep my coarse Kosher salt in my “salt pig” which keeps it dry, fresh and easily accessible. How it does that, I do not know. A gift from my gourmand sister in deep south Louisiana. Ann is the Julia Childs of our family, so if she likes a salt pig, I like a salt pig.

Salt. It’s what’s for dinner.