When salt takes the bacon
Bacon salt is terrific for grilled meats and poultry. It’s especially good on pork chops, amping up both the chop’s sweetness and the smokiness of the bacon.
The quickest way to highlight products for the braai is with good seasoning. As it happens, flavoured salts have become the secret weapon of chefs and mixologists, who are stocking their restaurants and bars with them.
But these salts made by professionals require time and equipment. At Odo, the elite kaiseki restaurant in New York, it takes chef Hiroki Odo two days to make an elemental sansho salt using the fragrant Japanese pepper. Chef Chris Fusaro of North Fork restaurant, also in New York, requires a dehydrator and three days to make the blood orange salt he sprinkles on skillet flank steak.
Laurent Tourondel, chef/owner of L’Amico in Midtown Manhattan, goes further: He takes water from the Atlantic Ocean, evaporates it, and sun-dries the crystals before mixing them with lemon and rosemary. It’s such a pain to create, he only makes a small amount at a time for personal use.
If you’re not a professional chef with time and energy to transform ocean water into your own sel de mer, meet Nik Sharma, author of Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food (Chronicle). His book celebrates spicing and condiments from around the globe, with recipes like breakfast naan skillet pizzas, pulled pork sliders spiced with dry mango, and kefir fried chicken.
But the big winner is a dead-simple recipe for bacon-chile salt. “I’m something of a lazy cook,” says Sharma. He likes the appeal of easy dishes like eggs and roast chicken but with an elevated touch.
“Flavoured salts are amazing quick fixes in the kitchen. You can change the entire profile of a dish as simple as fried eggs and taste it a million different ways.”
His recipe entails nothing more than salt, chilli powder, and a few strips of crisp bacon that might be left over from breakfast. The result is terrific for grilled meats and poultry. It’s especially good on pork chops, amping up both the chop’s sweetness and the smokiness of the bacon. But it will also benefit vegetable skewers, bowls of popcorn, and steamed white rice. It enhances whatever foods that might taste better with a hint of bacon — which makes it good for just about anything.
Makes about 2/3 cup
3 strips of bacon
1 Tbsp pure chipotle chile powder
½ cup flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
(* Chipotle powder is made of smoked and dried jalapeños.)
In a pan, fry the bacon over moderately high heat until crisp but not burnt. Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool. Finely chop the bacon and combine in a small bowl with the chipotle powder and salt. The salt can be kept for up to six weeks in an airtight container in a cool, dark place or the refrigerator; let it return to room temperature before serving. DM
Daily Maverick © All rights reserved