Salt or Season? | Chimichurri Chicken
Updated: May 24, 2021
A beginners guide to the difference between flavoring and seasoning food.
Do you know the difference between flavoring food and seasoning food? Flavoring food changes the overall “flavor” of food whereas seasoning food brings out the natural “flavor” of food. “Flavor” is found at crossroads of taste, aroma, texture, sound, appearance and temperature. The use of herbs and spices are the easiest way to flavor your food. Herbs are usually the fresh leaves of the plant and should be added at the end of the cooking time. Spices are generally the stems and/or seeds of the plant that have been dried. Add dry spices at the beginning of the cooking process to allow the moisture and heat (temperature) to reconstitute the spice and bring out the natural oils.
So many salts to choose from:
Don’t just add more salt, salt better. The primary role that salt plays in cooking is to amplify flavor. Salts' relationship to flavor is two dimensional: it has its own particular taste, and it enhances the natural flavor of ingredients. Salt can minimize bitterness, balance sweetness, and enhance aromas. All salt comes from the ocean, but is mined and refined in different ways.
Common Table Salt is crystalized in an enclosed vacuum chamber and most often, iodine has been added. I don’t recommend using iodized salt as it makes everything taste slightly metallic. It also often contains anti-caking agents to prevent clumps from forming or dextrose to stabilize the iodine. Neither of these additives are harmful but there is no reason to add them to your food.
Kosher Salt has traditionally been used in the Jewish process known as koshering (the removal of blood from meat). Kosher salt is inexpensive and forgiving and is fantastic for everyday cooking. There are two types of Kosher salt, Diamond Crystal and Morton. Diamond Crystal adheres to foods and dissolves twice as quickly as Morton. The more quickly salt dissolves, the less likely you are to over season a dish. Morton is much denser and almost twice as salty but easier to find in stores. If your recipe calls for kosher salt make sure to use the specified brand asked for because these two salts are not interchangeable.
Sea Salt is what is left behind when seawater evaporates. Harvesting unrefined natural salts is labor intensive which is indicative in their price. What you are paying for is their wonderful texture so use them in ways that allow them to stand out. Don’t waste it by seasoning pasta water or making tomato sauce, instead sprinkle it on delicate greens, add it to rich caramel sauces or sprinkle it on top of your favorite chocolate chip cookie. Enjoy the way it crunches in your mouth.
Salting isn’t something to do once and then check off your list; be constantly aware of how a dish tastes as it cooks, and how you want it to taste at the table. Layering your salt as you add ingredients will transform your recipes and season your food from within.
Spice up your life and your table. Experiment with seasoning, flavoring and HAVE FUN!
One of our favorite healthy and easy dinner recipes: Chimichurri Chicken! An addictive green herb sauce drizzled over simple spice-rubbed chicken breasts (or thighs) makes for a flavor packed meal.
prep time: 30 minutes
3-4 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 T red wine vinegar
1 large lime (2 tablespoons juice)
1 T honey
1.5 lbs boneless,skinless chicken
2 1/2 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
2-3 T olive oil
Fresh parsley, chopped
Optional: 2C cooked basmati rice
In a large mason jar, add the finely chopped garlic cloves, red wine vinegar and freshly squeezed lime juice, honey and Chimichurri Seasoning Mix.
Stir and set aside.
Place the lid on the jar and place in the fridge overnight or let stand at room temperature while preparing everything else.
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
Generously oil the grill or ridges of grill pan.
Remove excess fat from the chicken breasts.
Using a pastry brush, brush olive oil over all sides of chicken. In a small bowl whisk together cumin, coriander, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
Sprinkle spice blend over all sides of the chicken.
Place the chicken onto the grill or grill pan and cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through (registers 165 degrees F on a food thermometer and juices run clear).
Remove the chicken from the grill/grill pan and let rest for 5 minutes, tented with foil.
Slice chicken against the grain.
If desired, serve cooked chicken over grain of choice. We like white rice or couscous best!
I like to stir about 1/3 cup Chimichurri sauce into the cooked grain.
Add chicken on top and spoon generous amounts of Chimichurri Sauce over top. Garnish with fresh parsley.