Salting Meatballs and other difficult foods

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by koukouvagia, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Learning how to season properly takes time and I feel like I've gotten quite good at tasting as I go along, and seasoning every step.  But there are certain dishes where I have no clue how much salt to put in!

    Meatballs for example.  I can't taste as I make the meatballs because they are uncooked.  I usually put in equal amounts of beef and pork, about a pound each, and then all the other ingredients that I eyeball: a couple of eggs, some bread, spices and herbs.   How much do I salt per pound of meat?

    Stuffed grape leaves and vegetables.  My rice mixture is made just with rice and herbs and veggies and I don't really measure anything.  How to season?

    All comments and suggestions welcome, do you have any foods you don't know how to season?
     
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  2. leeniek

    leeniek

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    I generally don't use salt when I cook at home but I do use herbs and spices to add flavor to what I cook.  When I was young my mom had high blood pressure so she had to stop cooking with salt, and it's something that I've just never added.  I do use it when I bake and in tomato sauce but that's it. 

    So I would leave it out, and add it at the table if it was necessary for the dish. 
     
  3. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Wtih meatballs, meatloaves, sausage, etc., you "try" it, by frying a very small amount in a pan and adjusting the seasoning that way.  You'll develop a "feel" for how much looks and feels right without testing on everything but sausage.

    With things like grape leaves, just grab a very little salt and sprinkle it by hand into the mixture, then use as much in the cooking liquid as you'd use to cook rice -- less that first pinch.  In the years I've been following your cooking adventures, koukouvagia, I know you don't nead more than that.

    With baked goods it's a good idea to develop and follow some rules, but this thread isn't the place.

    No criticism intended, as Leenie seems like a fine cook. But suggestion makes sense only for people cooking for others with no tolerance for salt.  It's poor technique generally and leads to flat tasting food which can't be entirely repaired at table.  Ideally we like to season in layers -- and by "season" I definitely mean salt and pepper more than anything else, and by "layers" I mean we start at or near the beginning and taste and adjust throughout the cooking process.  But nearly always, we add at the beginning. 

    It's been said that the goal for the homecook is to salt to the level of the person at table who uses the least.  However, I think that applies only if there's someone very sensitive to salt.  While it's hard to define, there is a sort of narrow, "ideal" seasoning range and an ideal balance of salt and pepper. 

    BDL
     
  4. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Yes I guess I should have tried rolling and cooking a meatball first and then adjusting.  The suggestion for not salting any food, while logical, is not ideal.  When something should be seasoned from the inside out it's I find it unappealing to salt at the table.
     
  5. maryb

    maryb

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    I zap a tiny bit in the microwave if I am unsure but that is pretty rare. For ground meats in meatloaf/meatballs etc I just dump a teaspoon or so per pound in the palm of my hand.
     
  6. siduri

    siduri

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    Oh no, that is really too much wiork for me.  I suggest this.  Think that the meatball mixture is a serving of something on your plate that you know was not salted.  Shake the salt over it (using a salt shaker) as if you were salting it to eat.  If it's a deep bowl of the mixture calculate visually how many layers would be in that, if they were layers of a serving on your plate - and just keep salting these imaginary layers.  I find it works perfectly. 
     
  7. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Siduri you are hilarious, the quintessential home cook.  I find that you and I are very similar, this method will probably work for me too /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif.

    MaryB, I neglected to say in my original post that I adlibed a similar theory while I was cooking meatballs last week.  Only I didn't roughly measure a teaspoon of salt per pound, but a tablespoon of salt per pound.  Needless to say all that work in my famous meatballs was ruined by too much salt.  Had I gone ahead and tested one meatball and found out it was too salty I still could have salvaged the rest of the bunch by adding bread.  But alas, I threw them into the deep fryer anyway and ate them and I'm still kinda thirsty.
     
  8. french fries

    french fries

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    I was going to respond exactly what Siduri responded: I add one handful of ground meat, kinda flatten it, salt it like I would a steak, then salt it again pretending I'm doing the other side of my "steak". Then another handful, etc...

    I still do a tasting bite-size meatball that I fry, it only takes 5mn and could make the difference between ok and great for the whole batch of meatballs! So definitely worth the time IMO.

    However, using what we'll call "Siduri's technique" allows you to limit the amount of salt corrections you'll have to make after tasting your test meatball, so you don't have to correct, do another tester, correct again, etc etc...

    Last time I made meatballs the first tester had the perfect amount of seasoning, which is the ideal situation: I don't have to correct and test again (which would quickly become a waste of time) but at the same time I did taste my mixture and can continue making the whole batch with confidence.
     
  9. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

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    BDL  is on track I will only add one thing. as you season make note of quantity and when you get it right. write it down so next time no guesswork. Add salt asnd pepper into the liquid you add to the recipe , this way it will evenly disperse better when mixed.
     
  10. kirstens

    kirstens

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    I never put salt in my meatballs. I add parmesan cheese to that takes care of the saltiness for me.
     
  11. gerdosh

    gerdosh

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    For a pound of meat I add 1 tsp salt; this seems to be just right. Salt is a powerful flavor enhancer--never omit it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2010
  12. homemadecook

    homemadecook

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    My Mother practices us not to use food
    Some say that in adding salt or sugar Makes water unavailable for microbial growth.
    Process does not destroy nutrients.
    Increases salt and sugar content of food.
    High heat processing (e.g. pasteurisation) Inactivates autolytic enzymes
    Destroys microorganisms.
    Loss of heat-sensitive nutrients.
    Canning (involves high heat processing) Destroys microorganisms & autolytic enzymes. Water-soluble nutrients can be lost into liquid in can.
    Chemical preservatives Prevent microbial growth
    No loss of nutrient.
    Some people are sensitive to some chemical preservatives.
    Ionizing radiation Sterilizes foods (such as spices) whose flavour would change with heating.
    Inhibits sprouting potatoes
     
  13. siduri

    siduri

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    Thanks koukouvagia - i do agree.  I find your attitude to food very similar to mine.  It must be the mediterranean/american mixture!
     
  14. muge

    muge

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    what if i already cooked and noticed it is too much salty. do i have solution for that?  [font=arial, helvetica, clean, sans-serif]i didn't estimate how much salt do seasoning have. so it turned out too salty. :(( please help.[/font]
     
  15. mike9

    mike9

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    I don't know of any was to "de-salt" something already cooked other than to incorporate it into something else. 
     
  16. ordo

    ordo

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    Raw meat saltiness -as well as other foods- can be tasted on the tongue. It's quick and precise. 
     
  17. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    About 1 tsp per pound.

    Even easier than cooking a bit and tasting it... I mix the meat and lick my finger/glove.  If the finger/glove tastes yummy then there is enough salt.  If not, wash finger/glove and more salt.  If finger/glvoe tastes too salty, then wash finger/glovee and add more meat/filler.
     
  18. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Throw it out.
     
  19. ordo

    ordo

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    Mix it with unsalted white rice or potatoes. Use it for a salad. Make croquettes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
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  20. french fries

    french fries

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    I was also thinking to serve them with unsalted rice. A lot of Asian dishes consist of salty things with unsalted rice. 

    You could also crumble them and use them as a filling for hard shell tacos, or even normal tacos, quesadilla, enchilada, burritos... taking care of not salting (or only very little) anything else (rice, guacamole, sour cream, beans) that goes in there. 

    You could also crumble them up and simmer with a can of tomatoes for a pasta sauce. 

    Or with mashed potatoes for some kind of shepherd's pie. 

    Etc etc...