Not familiar with salt-cured foods? Think again. What about bacon? Smoked salmon? Salami? Sopressatta? Before we go down the long list of salt-cured meats to prove the pervasiveness of this preservation method, keep in mind that meats aren’t the sole subjects for salt-curing. More and more often, innovative chefs and recipe developers are showing us that cured meats are just the tip of the preservation iceberg. Below the surface of notable salt-cured eats, foodies have found that vegetables and other special ingredients cure quite well. Yolks, for example, turn into gratable orbs packed with complex flavor and unmatched texture once cured in salt.
Because the process of salt-curing aims to remove all moisture from whichever food chefs or home cooks choose to cure, it is quite a scientific process (as most fermentation and preservation tends to be). Salt inhibits the growth of spoilage-causing microorganisms, making it the perfect solution for allowing perishable foods to last longer than usual. New bacteria replaces the perishable, unwanted bacterial population, generating what scientists deem to be an acidic environment at about 4.5 pH. Sugar, on the other hand, aids in fermentation, too (just not in the same sense). It is used as lactobacilli, which in more plain terms means that it prohibits spores from forming, making it a natural preservative as well.
Cacio e Pepe with Salt-Cured Egg Yolks
Cacio e pepe has been a smash hit amongst diners and restaurateurs alike for quite some time. This Italian peasant dish packs an incredible amount of depth for such a simplistic meal, which explains its status as a best-selling dish at restaurants and eateries across the nation. With less than ten principal ingredients, think of this less as a recipe to follow and more as a framework with which to get creative. In this take on a beloved classic, pasta, cheese, and black pepper are transformed into something even more beautiful than before with the welcome addition of salt-cured egg grated over top, bringing luscious texture and flavor to the table and into our mouths.
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup sugar
1 lb. Local Roots pasta
2 cups Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
2 cups pasta water
1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
6 Tbsp. Local Roots butter
Article, Recipe, and Photos by Local Roots Volunteer Jess Santoro (@jess_santoro)
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