We were successful with Fundamental One: Think. Practicing mise en place works. Now we are ready for Fundamental Two: Salt.
We promised to share our blunders as well as our successes so we will confess here that there was a blunder and a spectacular one at that. Before we really grasped Fundamental Two, we skipped ahead to the recipes. When we saw the recipe for bacon, we couldn’t contain or restrain ourselves. We bought the pork belly and the preserving salt. We made the rub. We’d bought three pork bellies to make the five pounds called for. In retrospect, it should have occurred to us at that point that we could buy only one for our first attempt but we were stuck on that recipe. It should have also occurred to us that maybe we needed more rub since there is more surface area on three pieces of pork belly weighing five pounds than one piece of pork belly weighing five pounds. Like errant school children, we didn’t read the chapter before we took the test. And as we tried to convince ourselves that Sunday, that we really didn’t smell anything awful coming out of the oven, we got the F on that test that we deserved.
Sheepishly and shamefully, we read the chapter-it is called the fundamentals after all. By definition that means the basis, the foundation. It’s a house of sand kind of thing if you don’t.
Salt-the science and the flavor. He suggests learning to season by feel and sight. Measure a teaspoon of salt and place it in your palm. Pick up as much salt as you can between three fingers and your thumb, then measure it. With practice, you will be able to season by sight.
Kosher salt is the “default” salt. He recommends Diamond Chrystal but if not available, Morton. Keep in mind that Diamond Chrystal is flakier and Morton’s is denser so a tablespoon of Morton’s weighs more. If you are using Diamond Chrystal and switch to Morton, you may ruin your food by over salting. Salt early to allow the salt to give depth and balance to what you are cooking whether it’s a sauce, vegetables, chops or a roast. The presence of salt draws water across a cell’s membrane to equalize the concentration of salt on either side of that cell. It doesn’t draw out the juices, it concentrates them. He suggests salting one of two tomato slices. Wait 10 minutes and taste each. You will taste the difference. We tend to freeze meat we aren’t going to use within a day or so. We salted a pork chop, left it in the refrigerator for six days. It wasn’t slimy and it was very moist and flavorful when we cooked it. No more freezing and wondering if we froze some of the flavor out of what we bought.
We always salted water for pasta with a pinch of salt. We followed his recommendation and used what seemed to us to be a substantial amount of salt. But just like he promised, our pasta was seasoned through and through. No need for salt-the lemon and unsalted butter on our pasta made the perfect little supper.
It’s still our goal to have BLT’s with homegrown tomatoes and lettuce, homemade bread and homemade bacon, so we will try to make our own bacon again. But for now, we decided to try the lemon confit. It won’t be ready for three months, but we’ll let you know how it goes.
Menu – MARKET SALAD (from the garden), POLENTA WITH SAUSAGE AND ARTICHOKES, CHERRY CLAFOUTIS
Market Salad (from 101 Cookbooks)
Green Garlic Dressing:
- 1/4 cup chives
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp. avocado
- 1 tsp. agave
- fresh pepper to taste
- 1/2 bunch kale (from the garden)
- 1/2 bunch chard (from the garden)
- 1 cup farro
- 1 carrot thinly sliced
- 1 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, cut into small cubes
Make the dressing by using food processor to puree all the ingredients. Taste, and adjust with more salt, agave, or lemon juice.
Before you’re ready to serve, combine the kale and chard with about half the dressing to soften the kale and chard. Add the farro, carrots, fennel, and more dressing, add couple pinches of salt and toss again. Add avocados and give one last toss.
Polenta withSausage and Artichokes
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
- 1 lb. chorizo, casings removed
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup, marinated artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1/4 cup reserved chicken stock
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley (from the garden)
In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Add sausage and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Remove skillet from heat and stir in artichokes, season with salt and pepper. Serve over Trader Joes Creamy Polenta.
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- 1 lb. pitted cherries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush baking deep pie dish with softened butter. Combine flour and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until blended. Gradually add milk and cream whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Whisk in salt. Spread cherries over the bottom of the pie dish, pour batter over the fruit. Bake until lightly browned and a knife inserted into custard comes out clean, 35 – 45 minutes. Cool completely, slice and serve.