There are so many recipes for roasts that simply say, “season the meat with salt” before cooking. But exactly how much salt? Too little, and the meat is bland. Too much, and you’ve ruined a huge chunk of meat. But more often than not, home cooks are left on their own to figure out how much salt to sprinkle on top.
Salt roasting is a technique that takes off all the pressure of correctly seasoning meat before you cook it. It also helps keep meat tender and juicy, which is especially helpful when cooking meat that can dry out easily, like lamb. As long as you’re willing to go through a lot of salt to make it happen, you’re guaranteed a highly flavorful, juicy leg of lamb.
As the meat roasts beneath a hard shell of salt, all the juice gets trapped inside. The meat loses no flavor and is partially steamed while roasting, keeping it moist. This technique can be used with almost any large piece of protein: whole chickens, whole fish, pork loins and beef roasts.
Although egg whites make a harder shell, water can be used to dampen the salt instead. Add any herbs you like to the salt for more flavor. To know when the meat is done, use an instant read thermometer poked through the salt crust into the meat.
Salt roasting couldn’t be easier and the results are perfect every time.
Servings: 4 to 6
Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour
One 2 1/2 to 3-pound boneless leg of lamb, rolled and tied (1.1 to 1.4 kg)
3 tablespoons oil (45 ml)
5 cups kosher salt (about 700 g)
1/4 cup chopped rosemary (6 ml)
7 egg whites (or about 1 cup /240 ml of water)
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it’s hot and shimmering. Add the lamb and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes total.
Transfer the lamb to a baking dish. Let it rest and cool slightly while the oven preheats and you mix the salt.
Preheat the oven to 375 °F/190 °C.
In a bowl, combine the kosher salt with the rosemary. Add the egg whites (or water) and mix really well with your hands until the salt is damp and thoroughly covered with egg white.
Pack the salt all over the lamb in the baking dish, leaving no cracks.
Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer poked through the crust and into the middle of the lamb reads around 130 °F (54 °C) for medium-rare.
Take the roast out of the oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then crack the crust and remove it. Carefully and thoroughly brush off any visible salt from the outside of the meat.
Remove the string from the roast and slice thinly to serve.