Salt

I can’t imagine what it was like as a Roman soldier to get part of my wages paid in salt.  With my luck it would have been bargain brand.  I don’t pinch salt like everyone else does, daintily using my index finger and thumb with my little pinky waving way out.  I do a chef’s pinch, using all four fingers and my thumb to loft a dose of salt into the food when needed.  I may never really know if I am worth my weight in salt, because that would be quite a lot of salt.

I use three kinds of salt when I cook and bake, both at home and in my cooking classes.  I do have all sorts of other exotic salts sitting prettily in labeled jars in my pantry, but I tend to stick to the following three.

First, I use table salt for baking.  Table salt works the best for baking because it is proportioned to react with the flour and leavening agents (baking powder and baking soda) in recipes.  It also makes the bread taste better.  When I make either yeast or flatbread I find that table salt distributes itself the best in the dough.  When I buy table salt, I buy iodized salt.  I do not want to get a goiter.  No thanks.  I also mix equal parts table salt and ground black pepper to keep in my travel kit for seasoning on the go.  I also put table salt in the table salt shaker, go figure.

Second, I use Kosher salt for cooking.  I like the way the Kosher salt flakes drift down and land on meat waiting to be grilled, sautéed, or broiled, coating the surface with a salty, meaty crust.  Kosher salt also has good flavor which I find equals sea salt when I cook with it.  And Kosher salt is much less expensive than sea salt.  I also put Kosher salt on my hand-rolled breadsticks before I bake them.

Finally, I use sea salt to finish dishes.  When I taste my food before serving and realize it needs a little salt, I add fine-grained sea salt.  I put sea salt on my eggs, on baked potatoes, French fries, and on onion rings.  Basically any time I want to taste the salt.  Dad liked sea salt on fresh crisp red radishes.  I have been using the light gray Celtic sea salt.  (Unless you are from Boston it is pronounced Kel-tik.)

I used the following recipe in a Summer Entertaining class I taught at L’Academie de Cuisine years ago.  I have made it since, too.  As we slowly but surely approach the warm weather season, I will be making this again.

Salt-Crusted Margarita Chicken Breasts

4 skin on chicken breasts

¼ cup tequila

1 cup prepared Lime Aid

2 tablespoons Triple Sec

2 tablespoons Rose’s lime juice

Kosher salt

Method:  Combine everything but the salt in a bowl or plastic bag.  Stir or shake to distribute.  Let marinate 1 hour in the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 425F.  Lay the chicken out on a parchment lined sheet tray.  Season well with Kosher salt.  Roast, grill or broil for 15-20 minutes, or until done.

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