Before the doctor weighs in on your salt consumption, let’s make the most of this exquisite chemical compound so that your grilled meat is perfect, both in flavor and texture. Follow with me as we solve the mystery of whether it is better to salt the meat before or after putting it on the grill.
The first thing to keep in mind is that, although the function of salt in cooking is to enhance flavors, its properties influence the cooking result. This is precisely what concerns us today – the dehydrating effects of salt on meat. That is why a great chef knows that before deciding when to add salt, we have to consider what we are going to prepare. Let me explain.
When to add salt?
Due to the hygroscopic capacity of salt (its ability to absorb moisture), it can dehydrate the meat, making it tough. For this reason, most chefs choose not to add it until the end of the cooking process. Alternatively, halfway through cooking, you can first seal the cut on one side, then turn it over and add salt and, once it is cooked to perfection, salt the other side. This process helps to create a crust on the surface to contain the meat’s juices that we expect when we plunge our knife in.
It’s not always the same
However, there are times when it is important to salt the meat before cooking. For example, dry brining. This preparation consists of applying a considerable layer of coarse salt so that it can be removed before consuming the meat. Together with the heat and humidity of the oven, the salt forms a barrier that prevents the cut from drying out, while at the same time allowing the smoke to enter the food.
And what about broths and stews?
So what happens when we make a broth? In this case it is also better to add salt at the end, as this prevents it from absorbing all the flavors and aromas that we are carefully cultivating. And the technique for stews? It will depend on the chef’s objective, that is, whether or not we want the meat to impart its flavor into the base of the dish.
As you can see, the use of salt has implications that go beyond mere taste – it is a chemical art. Therefore, it’s important to identify what type of delicacy we are going to prepare in order to define the perfect moment to add the salt.