Chef Thomas Keller’s Tips for Home Cooks: Enhancing Flavor with Salt and Acids

Chef Thomas Keller’s Tips for Home Cooks: Enhancing Flavor with Salt and Acids

Chef Thomas Keller hold culinary deity status. Keller’s French Laundry restaurant and the
seven others that he runs are based on his belief that perfection is the only option. [Lynne] You talk about learning to salt properly. [Thomas] Salt, not pepper, because we always
think of salt and pepper put together. Pepper actually adds flavor or changes flavor. Salt enhances flavor. We talk about, “That dish was bland.” It was bland because it wasn’t seasoned properly
and wasn’t seasoned with salt. so certainly seasoning your food properly by actually holding your hand
up rather high and having the salt in between your fingers and kind of letting it fall,
so that as it falls, it’s dispersed out evenly over the piece of meat or the vegetables or whatever you’re using. Sometime we tend to salt really close to our
plates therefore concentrating that salt in a specific area, not getting a uniform seasoning
across the surface of it. [Lynne] Do you believe in salting in the early stages of cooking,
or let’s say salting before you cook, as opposed to salting toward the end of cooking? [Thomas] I like to do both. We talked about a steak for example. I love to salt before, and then of course
at the end before we serve it or before we eat it, we’re going to add a little finishing
salt, because I love what that does for protein- the enhancement of the flavor of course but also
the texture of the salt, I find very intriguing. [Lynne] The crunch of a larger grain of salt. [Thomas] It explodes in your mouth. That’s an extraordinary feeling and sensation
to have. [Lynne] Let’s talk about seasoning with acid. [Thomas] We’re all used to making vinaigrettes for our salads, but when we talk about seasoning with vinegar, we’re seasoning our
food to enhance the flavor, not to necessarily taste the seasoning ingredient, whether it’s
a sauce or a soup where it’s going to help enhance the flavor of the dish rather than
adding flavor to it. There is a big difference there between adding
and enhancing. [Lynne] Right, sort of brightens it, doesn’t
it? [Thomas] It does. It’s extraordinary. [Lynne] If you could teach people only one
recipe, where would you start? [Thomas] I think roasted chicken, for a number
of different reasons. It’s so satisfying-the aromas-as it’s roasting,
and then you have so many textures and flavors depending on what piece of meat you’re eating. I think being able to roast a chicken really
well is something that will serve you for a long, long time. We roast our chickens in the simplest way. I love a very high heat: 425 or 450. I love a lot of salt, in this case pepper
over the skin, and I’ll just put it in the oven. [Lynne] Thomas, it’s the perfect recipe because
the roasting of a chicken incorporates so much of what we’ve been talking about. Thank you.

6 thoughts on “Chef Thomas Keller’s Tips for Home Cooks: Enhancing Flavor with Salt and Acids”

  1. Yes, I love Thomas Keller! I used his method to roast a whole chicken for the very first time last night. It was so simple and not daunting in the least. The chicken came out perfectly seasoned, with crisp skin, and so tender and juicy. My girlfriend never liked the white meat because she had always had it overcooked, but she's now a convert.

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