Hi, my name is Steven Pope. You might remember me from previous blog entries on this site, or my career defining role of “Background Corpse #6” on NCIS: Acapulco. I’m here to talk to you about something near and dear to my heart. It’s a scourge that is destroying dinners, creating picky eaters, and ruining entire lives: under-seasoned meat.
As the founding and only member of the People Against Sucky Tasteless Eating - also known as PASTE - it has become my duty, nay, mission, neigh, right to advise you on how to use proper seasoning techniques. And also sneak in a horse joke. ‘Cause paste is made out of horses? No? Okay, not every joke can win the triple crown, I get it, moving on, put down your tomatoes.
First off, you should have herbs and spices in every dish you cook. No exception. From scrambled eggs to roast beef, you are ruining the meal and living a bland and flavorless lie if you don’t at least salt and pepper your food. Apart from the flavor benefits, there are health benefits as well - By properly seasoning meats and vegetables, you can avoid cooking them in excess sugars or fats. No need to deep fry a chicken if it’s been pan seared with garlic, lemon, and sage! Unless you want to, because that actually sounds pretty good.
We won’t be going into the more complicated ins and outs of seasoning like complementary flavors or heat index or mouth feel. No, we’ll be focusing on the proper techniques for frying, baking and broiling, and grilling. These techniques should lead you to being able to make meals that will get you membership into PASTE in no time./p>
We’ll keep this short as we’ve already done several articles on grilling before - all relevant here. Just remember: Liquid marinading takes time, the more the better, if you want that tasty, juicy sort of meal. You can also use a dry rub of salt, pepper, brown sugar, and spices of your choice. I’m personally a big fan of cumin in my dry rubs, but that’s neither here nor there. Dry rubs should be put on meat 15-30 minutes ahead of grilling, enough time to let the salt really break down the meat and penetrate. Liquid marinades can be put on the day before.
When you bake meat, you need to keep an eye on it. Not enough time, you don’t get it fully cooked. Too much time, and sorry bud, it has the texture and taste of napkins. How do you season for such conditions?
Brine and marinades!
Grind up and cut up some herbs. A great combination is rosemary (sparingly), thyme, salt, pepper, and some sage, combined with a simple brine (water, salt, dash of sugar) or maybe even some buttermilk!... Though I think buttermilk is best reserved with poultry.
Let the meat season and brine for two to four hours before putting it in the oven.
“But Steven, you bastion of charisma and charm,” I hear you not saying, “it’s already going to be flavored! It’s being fried!”
Not so! Frying is a great way to thoroughly cook your food and keep it nice and juicy, but without proper seasoning you’re turning your chicken into nuggets and your steak into… Well, I don’t think anyone actually serves a bland steak at a fast food place, but my point still stands.
If you are using a batter, make sure you season EACH STEP. Do not assume that one will cover all your bases, and people will notice that your fried chicken wasn’t seasoned before battered. The judging will happen! So, make sure you season your meat, your flour, your eggs, and whatever you’re using as a coat or batter.
If you are pan frying, it’s a bit easier: Season your oil and pan, season your meat, and get to sizzling.
All seasoning techniques boil down to using fresh herbs and fresh seasonings and applying them generously before you cook, no matter how you cook.
Jump into our collection of spice and herb gadgets. Here you will find every gadget possible to properly grind herbs and season properly.