Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Week, Day 1: I Am Thankful For Salt

I'm thankful for so much, that I thought I'd put a few of them down this week. To start, since we have vats of turkeys in the brine right now, I am thankful for salt.

It's just a little thing. I should put down family and love and all the big stuff. And I will. But tonight as I was putting the kids down to bed, this idea of salt popped into my mind. There are worlds crammed inside each little grain of salt.

Salt is pretty amazing when you think about it. It almost seems conscious the way it equalizes itself. That's why brines work. As long as your salt solution is saltier than the turkey or other meat is naturally, the meat will draw in the salt around it until it's all even Steven. The water and other liquids in your brine just piggy back on the salt.

Salt is essential for life on this planet, yet too much can kill ya. We all know that it's a pinch of salt, and a pound of prevention, right?

Humans have been using salt to preserve foods and mining salt as far back as 6000 BC. It's our first spice, our first flavor enhancer, and it indubitably has saved lives and helped civilization advance because of our ability to preserve of meats and other foods.

Salt water makes up over 97% of the earth's water. Less than 3% of the earth's water is drinkable. But that means 97% of the earth's water is perfect for brining Thanksgiving turkeys! OK, not really, but speaking of that....

If you are smoking your turkey, I highly recommend brining it first. The extra water will help the turkey stay moist during the smoking process. The salt will add flavor. Don't worry about adding a bunch of other ingredients to your brine. Too much fuss can spoil the broth. Keep it simple.

I'll leave this salt ramble with some quotes I found browsing the ol' internet. I've verified none of these, but even if they aren't totally correct, I like the sentiment.

I'll start with a quote from a very early cookbook, dated around 350 BC. Archestratus nailed it right here:

"Many are the ways and many the recipes for dressing hares; but this is the best of all, to place before a hungry set of guests a slice of roasted meat fresh from the spit, hot, season'd only with plain, simple salt....All other ways are quite superfluous, such as when cooks pour a lot of sticky, clammy sauce upon it." - Archestratus

So true, Archestratus. Here are a few more words from wise folks around the world.

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." Pythagoras
"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea." Isak Dineson
"Don't slaughter more pigs than you can salt." French Proverb
"If there are two cooks in one house, the soup is either too salty or too cold." Iranian Proverb
"Bread and salt never quarrel." Russian Proverb

And finally, from the father of the American foodie himself,

"Where would we be without salt?"
James Beard

No comments:

Post a Comment