It really is one of the great culinary techniques, and yet it’s almost never used. I’m talking about salt roasting, and Russ Parsons has put together a lovely introduction to the subject. Basically, you bury a piece of protein in a mound of kosher salt. Put the dish in a hot oven and bake for 20 minutes or so. Then you just crack open the saline shell and peel away the salty skin. The resulting flesh is incredibly succulent and flavorful. The kitchen chemistry behind the technique is rather simple:
The salt melts and forms a crust, making a kind of “oven within an oven”. The effect is quite like steaming, but because salt is hygroscopic — meaning it absorbs any moisture — the surface of the food stays dry, giving a texture that is closer to roasted.
This is the recipe I want to try.