There is no kitchen ingredient more important than salt. It brings out a food’s natural flavors, it enhances a dish after cooking, we cure meat with it, preserve vegetables with it and use it with cocktails. The only rock that we eat, our bodies require it, civilizations have fought wars over it, and great cities were located near it’s source (Salzburg, Austria).
For many years, salt was a valuable trading commodity, even used as currency in some locations. In 1999, I followed the Tuareg people of Niger for three weeks across the Sahara desert while working on a book for National Geographic. They used a camel caravan to transport the salt that is harvested from evaporation pools in the Western Sahara desert. They would buy it in November, store it in their village, then take it to parts of Nigeria to trade in the Spring.
All of our chefs agree about its importance, some prefer to use only sea salt and a few like the ease of using Kosher Salt. Kosher salt was originally used in the production of meat in Kosher kitchens and is a course salt, easy to sprinkle with your hands. One brand that you are likely to find in any good kitchen is Diamond Crystal. Chef Cory advises caution when using Kosher salt, because it is easy to over use it. And, once something is too salty, you have to start over. Table salt is rarely used in our kitchens, since it tends to have a stronger salt flavor and is easy to overuse. Sea salt also has the added flavor profiles of other minerals depending on where the evaporation ponds are located.
PASTA OR VEGETABLE WATER: Chef Shawn suggests using sea salt in pasta water. How salty should it be? It should taste like the ocean and the only way to determine if you have added enough is to taste the water carefully (don’t burn your tongue!!). Marcella Hazan recommended a minimum of three quarts of water and 1.5 tablespoons of salt per pound of dried pasta, more if the sauce is mild and not salty.
If you would like to know more about the origins and uses of salt (making mummies in ancient Egypt), I highly recommend the book, “Salt: A World History” by Mark Kurlansky.
NEXT WEEK: PASTA TIPS
EVENTS COMING UP
April Prix Fixe Menu will be posted on Instagram and Facebook page Wednesday morning. Three courses paired with three wines for $25 per person.
April 7, 4:00 - Flight of the Four Seasons: Four-Course dinner paired with tea-infused cocktails at M’tucci’s Italian. Space is limited, reservations required - $55 per person (service not included). Please call 505-503-7327 for reservations.
Here is a video of the making of the first cocktail on the list, the Spring Fling.
March 28, 7:00 - Oscar Butler live in our lounge
March 29, 8:30 - Lani Nash live in our lounge
M’TUCCI’S ITALIAN MARKET & PIZZERIA
May 31, 6:00 - Beer Week Collaboration with Dialogue Brewing. Four course menu paired with Dialogue’s European style beers. Tickets available at Dialogue Taproom, 1501 1st St NW. $40 per person.
Monthly Photo Contest - Win a $50 Gift Certificate!
Post a photo from M’tucci’s on your Facebook page or on your Instagram feed and use the hashtag #lovemtuccis. On the last day of the month, we’ll pick the best photo from the three photos with the most engagements (likes, shares and comments) and the winner will receive a $50 M’tucci’s gift certificate. Each month’s winner will be entered in the annual contest for the Grand Prize (tbd). Photos are being posted now for the April contest which ends on the last day of the month. Winners announced on May 2.
Pastry Specials at M’tucci’s Italian Market & Pizzeria
Our pastry chefs, Kelly, Lauren and Moriah create fresh goodies daily. You can almost always find baguettes, ciabatta, sourdough and rye bread; Lemon Ricotta cookies, Dulce de Leche Pecan Sandies, and brioche donuts - HoneyMaple Bacon or Lemon Meringue topped with toasted Almonds. Specials might include cream puffs, savory empanadas, fruit tarts or Lemon Bars with Citrus Chocolate Mousse.
Also, check out Facebook or Instagram on Thursdays for the Thursday Night Prix Fixe Menu.
Now online is the M’tucci’s You Tube Channel. See highlights of our three locations, watch the kitchen in action, and watch our talented pros make cocktails that they have created. Watch it here.
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