Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Salt of the Earth

Salt Roasted Potatoes.

I'd heard the concept and lumped it in there with Radiator Roasted Rump Roast and Steam Engine Steamed Salmon , But after reading of it on Cooks Illustrated  Oct. 11 website, which had a recipe for salt roasted potatoes with thyme and shallots, I had to try a HOTR edition.

Most recipes just call for burying a baker under a mound of salt. The premise is there is a moisture exchange between the salt and the spud, the moisture escaping the potato being absorbed by the salt and then reabsorbed by the potato making the interior, not only well seasoned, but very light and fluffy. Store brand salt was 32 cents   The four potatoes were about 50 cents (two for dinner, two chopped and reheated for home fries in the morning)  The worse case  scenario if these turned out like mortar rounds was I was only out  out a buck and there was still pork tenderloin, salad and garlic cheese biscuits (knock off Red Lobster version). if needed.

You start by laying 4 potatoes in about 2 and a half cups of salt (one 26 ounch package) in a 13 x 9 pan.   To the salt was added a clove of garlic and some sprigs of rosemary instead of the thyme and shallots.  In hindsight, I would have left some of the paper surrounding the garlic on there, so it didn't fall apart, and was a little softer at the end of cooking.

Cover TIGHTLY with foil and bake in the middle rack of a 450 degree oven for 1  hour and 15 minutes.  When there's 30 minutse left to cook, pop in a 1 and 3/4 - 2 pound pork tenderloin which you have rubbed with garlic and herbs and laid in a small glass pan on top of a little EVOO and salt, then covered with foil.

When time is up, remove potatoes and pork.  The pork should be about medium rare,  Keep foil on it, set on a trivet and allow to finish cooking to medium with the foil on it.  Remove foil from potatoes and remove the garlic to a small dish while you raise the heat on the oven to 475 degrees (my oven tends to be "hot" so 475 worked better than the 500 degrees the web recipe called for)  Brush the tops of the potatoes with a Tablespoon or so of EVOO and return to oven for 15-22 minutes. 

While that finishes, squeeze the garlic bulbs gently (and carefully, they're hot) to remove the garlic pulp and mix with a big pinch of chopped fresh rosemary and 4 Tablespoons of butter and a dash of sea salt to make a paste.

The potato skin will be dark golden brown and firm, but when poked with a knife, the interior should be quite soft when done.  Remove any clumped salt from the bottom of the potato with a clean kitchen towel , and serve with the garlic herb butter. (The salt in the pan can be strained and reused for another batch of potatoes before discarding).

Seriously, this was the best baked potato I've ever had. The interior was incredibly soft and fluffy, with a hint of garlic and rosemary in it, even without the butter and  there was no  "salty" taste.  The skin was crisp but not shoe leather, making it easy to scoop out the well seasoned flesh with a spoon.

Inexpensive, easy and delicious, that's what range cooking is all about.


  1. Sounds similar to a salt treatment for steak I saw on Facebook, in which you cover a steak liberally with kosher or sea salt for a period of time (depends on the thickness of the steak) before rinsing and placing on the grill; supposedly a similar moisture exchange takes place which makes for a more tender steak. I've tried it once, seemed to work ok; more study needed. :)

  2. Salt is one of those things.....

    Ran across a recipe for baking roasts where you cover the meat with salt for 24hours ahead of time then bake at a really low temp. I thought it was going to be awfully salty, but I'll try it......then I saw how much moisture the salt had pulled out of the meat and figured it was going to be horribly dry.....I was wrong on both accounts. It was, by far, one of the best cuts of beef I've ever had (and not cause it was a great cut, it was infact, a pretty darn cheap cut)!

  3. Cook's Illustrated Jan/Feb issue has a perfect baked potato. Disslove 2 Tbl. salt in 1/2 cup water, set oven to 450, roll potato's in salt water, put on rack on cookie sheet, pick potato's, bake to 205 degrees, brush with oil and return to oven for 10 minutes. Remove and immediately cut X in top. Best baked potato I've ever had. Used a temp probe to 205 which took 1 hr. 5 min., after 10 more minutes the temp reached 214. I missed the one you used but it's going on the weeks menu. Sure looks good and I love roasted garlic.

  4. Thanks for sharing! I'll have to try this method. Have you ever tried Syracuse potatoes? Its basically boiling small potatoes in very, very salty water. The high salt content raises the boiling point and you get incredibly creamy potatoes. Sometimes I stop there or other times I turn those into crispy potatoes.


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