Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Off The Topic

I had it all planned out. I knew exactly the post I wanted write and how I would set it up. I was going to call it something completely corny, like “A Tale Of Two Chickens,” and would once again go into how I am a kitchen experimenter and like to compare two different preparations of the same thing (dork, I know). I was full of the drive and determination that can only come from a well-laid plan.

I cooked chicken breasts coated with breadcrumbs and parmesan, both in my favorite cast iron skillet and in the oven, to see which I prefer. So far so good. I then sat down to dinner with a piece of each preparation of chicken.

That's the oven-baked chicken on the right and skillet chicken on the left. Oven chicken won by a narrow margin.

This is when I got sidetracked. Problem was that the chicken was painfully unremarkable (and, therefore, un-bloggable) in both cases. My innocuous and unoriginal steamed sweet potato on the other hand, was quite noteworthy.

It wasn’t the potato itself that led to my derailment from the chicken plan – it was the salt I doused the potato with. An ardent supporter of Sunday Night Dinner, (and wonderful friend) Jonathan, had been kind enough to send me a jar of Himalayan Pink salt, for no reason at all (that I can remember). I had the jar stashed away in my spice jungle until a recent shopping binge led me to buy a salt grinder.

I coarsely ground some pink salt on my potato, topped it with some olive oil and black pepper and changed my blogging plans with one bite. Wow. I found that the pink salt isn’t really very salty – it is very mild, both in salt content and flavor, which allows it to be left in larger chunks. The coarse pink salt added crunch to the smooth (and super sweet - thanks Boston Organics!) potato along with a soft, un-intrusive salty taste. That’s the only way I can describe the taste of the salt – soft and smooth, just like it’s pink color.

The contrast between
mineral-rich salt like this one and the common Morton’s salt is striking. The stuff in the cylindrical paper containers tastes bitter and acidic to me. Chemical, even. For delicate applications that can allow the salt to shine through, such as grinding salt on top of a salad or something simple like a potato, this stuff can’t be beat. It’s a condiment more than a spice. I could almost eat the crystals like hard candy. That’s probably not a good idea, right?

Just goes to show you, even the best-laid plans… Eh. “Tale of Two Chickens” was a lame title anyway.

P.S. As an update, I have already managed to break the salt grinder. I don't know how.


Jonathan said...

Ah, finally the post I've been waiting for. I had forgotten about that salt. My plan has been completed now. However, I know I would have found your chicken quite delicious.

JC said...

You broke the salt grinder already? Wow. I never knew so many different types of salt existed until I saw about 50 different kinds at Southern Season in Chapel Hill. I bought some cheap sea salt. I want to try the black salt.

Anna said...

Jonathan - Thank you so much for the salt! It's great. You will have to come by and try it. Maybe not the chicken though :)

JC - Yep, grinder busted. I have no idea what I did, as always. Black salt looks so cool, doesn't it? Like caviar, I think. Let me know if you get some. I have no idea what it's supposed to taste like.