How to Use Salt Crusting to Make Steak Even Tastier
The best way to make slab of beef juicier is to smother it in salt.
It sounds paradoxical, but it works. And it’s fun as hell to do.
Called salt crusting, the technique works by combining water and kosher salt to create a thick, clay-like paste, says Michael Sullivan, an expert chef at Creekstone Farms, the Kansas-based provider of top-quality steaks for restaurants around the country. By applying the thick salt paste before you slide the steak into the oven, it creates a salty shell around the steak, and that keeps the natural moisture of the steak inside, ensuring a juicy cut. In fact, Sullivan says, a salt crust doesn’t even make the steak that much saltier than a normally seasoned steak. Oh, and how’s this for innovation: Sullivan recommends using wine, rather than water, for some extra flavor.
Once you take the steak out of the oven, chip off the salt crust with a kitchen mallet (told you it was fun!) and carve it up as normal.
As for the steak you pick? You’ll want to prioritize a big cut that you can carve, like a three-inch-thick porterhouse or a mighty tomahawk (aka a Frenched bone-in ribeye.) It’ll compound the effect of locking all that moisture with such a huge hunk of meat—and ensure one hell of a presentation. Sullivan recommends serving it up with some chimichurri—a classic Argentine steak dressing—and some blistered tomatoes.
24 oz. ribeye
1 Tbps. oil (use a high-temperature oil like peanut or canola)
2-3 tsp. black pepper
Aromatics and herbs to taste (Sullivan recommends fresh rosemary, orange peel, garlic, and lemon peel)
3 lbs. coarse kosher salt
1 ¼ cups red wine
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a shallow roasting pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Combine wine & water and mix well. The mixture should be slightly dry but still moldable like a paste.
2. In roasting pan, pat 1 ½ cups of salt mixture into the shape of the steak so you can lay it flat on the salt. Make the salt bed about ½ to 1 inch larger than the size of the beef roast. Brush the roast with the oil, and then press the cracked pepper and aromatics evenly into surface. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer into thickest part of roast, making sure it’s not resting in fat.
3. Center the roast on the salt layer. Starting at base of roast, pack remaining salt mixture onto sides and top of roast to encase roast in salt. (Occasionally, some salt mixture may fall off, exposing small areas of the roast; this will not affest cooking). Do not add water or cover pan.
4. Roast in 425-degree oven approximately about 40–45 minutes or to desired internal temperature. Remove from oven when meat thermometer registers 130 degrees for medium rare, or 145 degrees for medium. Sullivan recommends cooking it to 135–137°F and then removing it from the oven.
5. Remove roasting pan to cooling rack & let stand for 10-15 minutes.
Remove & discard salt crusts from roast, brushing off any remaining salt. Carve roast into ½ inch thick slices. Makes 6-8 servings.
1 bunch parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bulb shallot, minced
1 sprig oregano, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flake
¼ cup good red wine vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
Mince garlic and shallots and cover with vinegar for 15 minutes. Chop parsley and oregano. Add red pepper flake, salt and olive oil to the vinegar mixture then fold in chopped parsley and oregano.
1 ½ cups mixed cherry tomatoes
About 1 Tsbp. (use high-temp oil such as peanut, canola or corn)
1. Heat large cast iron or steel pan on high heat. Put oil in the pan then add the tomatoes when oil is hot.
2. Gently toss the tomatoes until fully blistered. Remove from the pan and season with salt and pepper.
Slice the ribeye and shingle the slices onto a platter and cover with blistered tomatoes. Dress with the chimichurri and serve.