To Salt or not to Salt
One day we hear “salting your meat will dry it out” and the next “season your meat with plenty of salt” … So which one is it????? Well in very basic terms - a bit of both!!
We all learnt in Year 8 Biology about the process of Osmosis and and am sure could all agree that, yes, salt will draw moisture out of meat in an attempt for those juicy molecules to gain some equilibrium. Luckily, however, time is our tool in this instance … we can either salt for such a short period that Osmosis does not have time to start or salt for such a long period that not only Osmosis occurs but also Diffusion which has some spectacular benefits.
On those days where the sun is shining and you make a last minute decision to whack on the bbq and have a ripper steak then season your meat immediately before you place them on the heat.
However …. if you have time for a little planning why not try “Dry Brining” or “Deep Seasoning”. This takes a little time but no more work and the results are impressive. Salt your steaks (always after you have dried your meat … see my note on the Maillard Reaction) with plenty of sea or kosher salt (stay away from table salt …. again, more reading another time!!) between 1 and 3 days prior to when you are going to cook. Once seasoned, the steak should sit on a wire rack uncovered for up to 3 days (24 hours is enough but I find the best results are after 48 and 72 hours). Leaving complicated science behind, the salt crystals draw out the moisture which eventually dissolves the salt and now the good bit - this salty moisture is then diffused back into the meat resulting in a wonderful deep seasoning. Even better the salt that has now been diffused deep into the steak works hard to denature those tight protein strands that bundle together in raw meat. Again leaving science behind for now - denaturing is what we need to get that perfectly tender steak that will melt in your mouth.
So - go on - get salting … what are you waiting for??? Do you really want me to quote more Hamlet?