Pretty much everybody agrees that salt on your steak is as basic as the ABC’s. Aaron Franklin, owner of Austin’s world famous Franklin Barbecue once remarked ‘Steak without salt is sacrilege’ and we completely agree. That being said, not everybody knows how important technique is and how to properly salt and season a good steak. For starters, the steak should never taste salty – which begs the question, how do you season it with enough salt to taste great but not so much that it tastes salty?
Probably the most common method we see is people sprinkling a little bit of salt on the meat just prior to tossing it on the grill or pan, and then again briefly after it comes off and prior to slicing it up for consumption. There’s a problem with that though – IT ISNT’ RIGHT! Salting and seasoning takes place before putting the meat on the grill – like anything good in life – you have to set the groundwork early.
To understand why, it’s important to realize that the point of salting a meat isn’t to add a little bit of flavor. The point to salting a meat is to bring out the moisture – and balancing that process to arrive at a perfect balance between moisture and dryness.
This is different than brining a meat, which we’ll cover in more detail elsewhere, but think of it as a ‘mini-brining’ where the moisture drawn out of the steak by the salt dissolves the salt and creates a salty barrier for flavor.Beyond that, letting the meat rest after being salted is key. We’d recommend our DSSC Steak Seasoning which is more balanced to salt than peppercorn, but any blend you like will work.
Just remember, you can’t rush this process, you need the water to pool around the exterior of the steak and form a nice brown crust when grilled. Now the next part is up for some debate – how long do you let the meat rest? Opinions vary anywhere from 4 to 48 hours – but when you get that type of spread, you’re starting to talk about a few concepts, including salting, seasoning, brining and aging. When we think about salting and seasoning a steak, 8 hours is what has worked the best for us. Get up in the morning and salt or season the steak for an afternoon grilling. Much longer than that, you start to run into an aging process which is worth its own discussion or brining process and there are different considerations there.
Don’t overdo it either – too much salt can make the steak too salty, but it’s hard to overdo it if it’s sitting for only 4 to 8 hours. From there, just toss it on the grill or bake it in the oven. When you’re done, sprinkle a little bit of a flaky salt on top or something finely ground like our DSSC Himalayan Pink Sea Salt.
Steak without salt is sacrilege…
Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue