This Spaghetti Aglio e Olio recipe with Roasted Garlic Sea Salt is my best attempt at documenting a recipe passed from Larry Dinolfo, a Italian Pizza shop owner and local legend in Dover, Ohio. He taught it to my mother, who taught it to me. But like all beloved chefs, he never measured a thing.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio simply means Spaghetti with garlic and oil. The internet is full of different ways for making this simple recipe, but almost none use the egg. Use the egg. It’s details like this that make a local chef a local legend. (Among his many other colorful traits.)
Larry would always invite us back into the kitchen while he cooked. It was small and chaotic: big pots of boiling water, sharp knives, skillets of sizzling olive oil, aged pepperoni sticks, and blasts of heat from the pizza oven. He sang or played the kazoo while he bounced between dishes, stirring and tasting with arms flailing. On slow nights, he would tell us stories about his immigrant parents’ speakeasy and the notorious gangsters who would come and go through the back door.
But enough reminiscing; let’s make “olio.”
There are three things you should never discuss among new friends: religion, politics, and when to salt your meat.
I’m only half joking. But as purveyors of fine salts, I can’t help but to feel a little obligated to regale the masses with the most opportune time to salt meat before cooking it, so I started doing the research—and wow, what a can of worms. I’ll spare you the suspense and just put this out there: I still don’t know for sure.
What I do know is that every professional chef is willing to put his or her career on the line when it comes to backing their own theories—and I imagine many friendships at culinary school have been severed over such a detail. Too bad, so sad.
So, I’m going to take advice from my favorite genius, Albert Einstein, and try to “make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This is what I’ve learned:
Salt Tip #1: Making Friends
If you’re merely seasoning your meat, then sure, feel free to add a just a pinch of salt right before searing or even after you cook it, and that’s fine, buuut sort of frowned upon and people will probably talk about you behind your back. SO, if you want friends and you want to break down the protein bonds in your steak to create a more tender meat, you’re going to need a few more pinches of salt and a little more time. But just a couple of hours! Friends are worth it.
Salt Tip #2: Breaking Bonds
A little salt helps cells to retain moisture, but a little more salt pulls the moisture from the cells, which sounds bad, but is actually good if you give the meat enough time to reabsorb the moisture.
The advantage to doing this is that once the salt penetrates the meat, it breaks down the protein bonds making it more tender, and some chefs would argue that this provides more mature and balanced flavor. And chefs certainly like to argue.
In Practice: Grilled Top Sirloin with Fusion Black Truffle Sea Salt
So, I experimented with a top sirloin and our Fusion Black Truffle Sea Salt, and this is how I did it, and this is how I’ll continue to do it:
Add 2, two-finger pinches of our decadent Black Truffle Sea Salt to each side of the Top Sirloin at least 3 hours before grilling.
Wrap it in plastic wrap, otherwise the moisture escapes and will not be reabsorbed. Keep it in the fridge this way for at least 2 hours.
One hour before grilling, remove it from the fridge and let it return to room temperature.
Preheat grill between 500 – 600 degrees.
For medium, place that baby on the grill, close the lid, and let it cook for 4-5 minutes. No peeking!
And then flip it. Close the lid for 3 minutes. And then…voila!
Let it rest for a few minutes, and add another pinch or two of Black Truffle Sea Salt and ENJOY!
On a final note:
If you take anything from this blog post, it should probably be that if you don’t own a jar of Fusion® Black Truffle Sea Salt, you should. Not only are you thinking about how amazing it would be on all forms of potato, (Because, duh! That’s obvious.) but you are now also incredibly and rightfully tempted to use it on your next grilled steak. Do it. You won’t be disappointed—no matter when you put it on!