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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grind and Grain

Salt and the use of it can sometimes be very intimidating to cooks.  Too much and your family or the reviewer from The Times will see a weakness in your abilities.  Too little and the dish that you so carefully concocted and coaxed to mouth-watering deliciousness will never reach its full potential.  How do we strike that perfect chord of sodium fortified bliss?  Practice.

                Salt is a magical thing that turns the satisfactory into the sublime.  Each crystal comes with the power to pull flavor out, accentuate it, and when used in the right amounts in the right way, will increase retained moisture and depth of flavor (brining, salt & sugar rubs, marinades, etc.).  Making sure to season during the cooking process and not just after is one of the most basic ways to take advantage of this valuable kitchen tool.  If we wait until the very end of our simmering to season, we will not have allowed the sodium to drag the flavors and odiferous compounds out of our carefully prepped ingredients.  These compounds need to have time to marry together to bring out their full potential and salt acts as a catalyst for this. 

                I have no idea what the results will be when I season with iodized salt out of a salt shaker.  Even when using finely ground salt out of hand, it is still terribly hard to both see and feel  the granules of salt before they rain down upon a chicken breast.  That’s why I suggest Kosher salt.  It makes no difference whether its Morton’s or Diamond Crystal (the red and white box), they both feel the same and that’s what is important.  Kosher salt crystals are much larger and thus more easily perceived by your senses of touch and sight.  Keep and dish of it next to your stove so that your fingers can get used to it and eventually become your measuring device. 

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