Have you ever bought "gourmet" infused salt? I'll admit, I've been tempted to pick up a jar or two for my home cooking, but the price for a tiny vial of pastel-coloured sodium always seemed too high. The flavoured (or "infused") salts are common in department stores and gourmet gift shops, bought by well-meaning acquaintances but never really used, except in the rare recipe for frou-frou chocolate truffles, roasted fish or BBQ rub. That said, for people like me who love flavour in as many layers as possible, it usually just takes a few ideas to get into the groove of creating tons of new uses for them!
Since my family loves their wine (and we grow our own grapes), I had a fairly decent part-bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon on hand that was calling to be used in something decadent. Since I don't drink, simply downing the third-bottle's worth wasn't an option, but as I was sprinkling flakes of my favourite kosher salt onto my salad one lunchtime I was struck with the not-so-original idea to combine the flavour of the wine with the texture and carrying capacity of a coarse salt. Google directed me to Well Preserved's recipe, which was almost inane in it's simplicity but at the same time perfection. How hard is it to screw up two ingredients?
That said, I almost did screw up - by walking away from the stove as my wine was reducing. I left the stove on high when I went for a bathroom break (why do you always need to pee at the most inopportune times?) and when I came back my half-full pot of booze was barely covering the bottom of the vessel. Thankfully I had already measured the salt out and had it standing by (I used a pretty cheap, plain-Jane kosher salt, since I knew I'd be adding flavour to it) so I could quickly dump it into the pot and mix. The colour was dramatic - almost like I had added a bottle of food colouring to the salt - but after it dried (and dried... and dried...), my first taste of it drove home the point that it was anything but artificial dye! Now, the possibilities are almost endless, and I wound up making another batch for Christmas gifts this year. With each little bottle I packaged up, I included a card with a few suggestions for using the treat to it's full potential: crusting steaks or roasts, tossing with (or mashing into) potatoes, sprinkling on salads, tomatoes and grilled or roasted vegetables, stirring into sautéed mushrooms, risotto and pasta sauces and even topping homemade soft pretzels and caramels!
Shared with Gluten Free Fridays
Makes 1 cup, 48 (1 tsp) servings
1 cup Cabernet wine
1 cup kosher salt