If Martha can market everything she knows how to do, why not moi ici? A friend told me, "Do what you love, love what you do, and make no apologies..."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Steak Bravissimo and the Salt Debate

Salt is the most profound flavor enhancer of all foods, including meats. When it comes to dry-seasoning trimmed meats prior to cooking, some chefs say "no" to salt because they believe it draws out the juices. Others disagree, hence a controversy.

One side of the debate says that meats which are trimmed down to bare muscle should be salted post-cooking, during resting, so that the salt functions as a mere accent. Others say apply salt judiciously, a few minutes prior to cooking, to truly marry all the flavors of the meat and other seasonings.

When it comes to grilling or quick cooking methods, I prefer to include some salt before cooking to deepen and balance the flavors of the meat. Nothing heightens, enhances and unites flavors like salt, and by adding it just before or during the cooking process, it performs to its full potential.

Whether or not you salt before cooking, my opinion is the true key to retaining juiciness is searing the surface of the meat at the start of cooking to seal in the juices and flavorings. (In fact, one of the best methods of pan-cooking a pepper-coated steak is to use a smoking hot, dry cast-iron skillet with nothing more than coarse salt added to the pan just before searing the meat.)

If you prefer your salt just as an accent, go with "no salt before cooking." You can request any of my spice blends to be salt-free, and add salt just before serving.

Not sure? Experiment! Your own palate is your best judge of this debate.

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