Cooking in a salt crust

When cooked in a salt crust, the food aromas and flavours are concentrated and are only revealed once the crust has been broken into.

The spectacular effect of this dish has a lot to say for its success: a crystalline dome, placed on the table and broken into after several taps with a mallet is a show in itself. Following this comes the divine bouquet of jealously entrapped aromas and fragrances, which, when released, will tantalise your guest’s nostrils.

This method of cooking does not only offer a grand visual effect but is also a unique means of cooking: with all the benefits of steaming (food cooked in a parcel) but using a natural substance, for instance the Le Guérandais grey Guérande sea salt, rich in trace elements. The salt crust isolates and protects the food like a carapace, which concentrates the aromas and cooks, so to speak, with steam.

Certain foods are better adapted to this method of cooking. Poultry is particularly recommended (chicken, capon, guinea fowl, pigeon) and must be cooked breast side up, some large cuts of meat (leg of lamb, roast beef and rib of beef) must be coated in oil and seasoned with pepper beforehand. Also fish with the scales left on and gutted via the gills (line-caught sea bass, turbot), various vegetables such as potatoes may also be added.

3 to 4 kilos of Le Guérandais grey sea salt will be necessary per item, as it is essential, after having placed them on approximately 3 cm of grey rock salt, to entirely coat them in the remaining salt. Herbs can be added (thyme blossom, rosemary, fennel) depending on the desired flavour. No part of the food must be exposed to air, otherwise the aromas and cooking juices are likely to escape and the food will tend to become dry.

Pre-heat the oven gas 8/9 then cook at gas 7 for thirty to thirty-five minutes for meat, forty to forty-five minutes for fish and approximately one and a half hours for poultry.

When cooked, allow the dish to rest for ten minutes before placing on the table.

Don’t forget the mallet and Bon Appétit!