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This post was sponsored by Morton’s Salt as part of their Next Door Chef Campaign. All opinions are, of course, my own.
Last fall, I had the opportunity to attend a very exciting event, right here in little old Nashville: Morton Salt’s Next Door Chef event. On Monday, March 20th, the video of that event went live! If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here: MortonSalt.com/NextDoorChef Or here!
As you may remember, at the event, a local Nashvillian who is a full-time musician, as well as a novice in the kitchen, Travis, was coached by Chef Karl Worley, the chef of the very popular Nashville restaurant, Biscuit Love. Together, the two of them, plus Chef Worley’s staff, produced a one-night-only “pop-up restaurant” called “Indie’s Kitchen” (named for Travis’ daughter), and served an amazing meal to a select group of guests, right in Travis’ backyard!
Travis’ goal, he semi-joked with us, was to impress his gorgeous wife, Claire! (What woman wouldn’t love a guy like that?) But, truth to tell, he also hoped to gain some cooking skills he could share with their daughter, Indie, and their family and friends for years to come. After all, isn’t eating what brings us all together? All of God’s chilluns gotta eat. So why not make great food, while you’re at it?
Chef Worley was there to teach Travis some very practical tips on how to make food more delicious. One area where home chefs typically struggle is in using the appropriate seasoning in food. Because Morton Salt knows this, they want to raise awareness among home cooks of the different types of seasoning “tools” that Morton Salt has to offer. These different types of salt are not just for professional chefs, but are easily accessible for home cooks, as well. I use all three types in my cooking. And if you only use regular table salt for ALL your cooking needs…well…you’re doing it wrong!
- Morton Kosher Salt has the largest sized crystal, of the three salts. It adds a gourmet touch to the dish, and is the preferred salt of so many chefs because it is easy to control for perfectly seasoned food.
- Morton Coarse Sea Salt adds an artistic “pop”, that you and your dinner guests can see and taste. The larger-than-table salt crystals provide contrasting texture.
- Morton Fine Sea Salt still adds a “pop”, yet is fine enough for blending in all cooking. The fine salt crystals dissolve quickly making them perfect for marinades, soups, sauces and dressings.
The meal was remarkable on several levels: for a novice chef to cater a meal for a crowd is a huge undertaking. To have a professional chef, and his staff, and a camera crew entering your home, invading your kitchen, and decorating your back yard patio could have caused a lesser person’s knees to tremble, but Travis was amazing! He and Chef Worley and the entire team produced a lovely springtime meal, with a Southern flair.
All the recipes from that meal are available to you on Morton Salt’s Next Door Chef website, and I highly recommend you check them out. Each dish was inspiring in its own way, and you could really taste how salt transformed each menu item.
As we entered “Indie’s Kitchen”, we were served a lovely Lemon Spring Tea (available with or without vodka!) from the bar. It was garnished with a beautifully mellowed slice of preserved lemon. Preserving lemons by storing them in a salt brine produces something extraordinary in the way of flavor. I was so excited by this recipe for preserving lemons that they shared with us (I often see preserved lemons called for as an ingredient in Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes) that I’m re-creating these, today, in my own home. Expect to see a recipe or two in the near future on my blog, utilizing the lemons I preserved following their recipe.
Pimento Cheese, a Southern staple, was served on a twice baked cracker. You would not believe the difference a brushing of butter, a sprinkling of coarse sea salt, and a few minutes in the oven can make to a lowly saltine cracker!
The Salt Roasted Beet Salad with Goat cheese was a reminder of how delicious a fresh roasted beet can be. The salt on which the beets were roasted conducted heat evenly and brought the flavor of the beets to life.
Chicken Country Captain is a chicken curry dish with a longstanding southern tradition: I’ve made this dish myself, and it is outstanding! The Country Captain was served on dish of Cheese Grits that were perfectly seasoned.
The meal was finished with a Biscuit Strawberry Shortcake, and Chef Worley used a salt-and-sugar brine on the strawberries to help coax out the juices. Desserts ~do~ need salt, to bring life to the sweetness. What would a biscuit be, after all, without salt? But if you want to go lighter on the salt with that particular recipe…well…I won’t fault you.
The event in Nashville was Morton Salt’s second Next Door Chef event, the first having been shot in Chicago, which happens to also be the home city of Morton Salt. The Nashville event was tied to springtime cooking, so the recipes they are releasing with the video are perfect for this time of year. Their next Next Door Chef event will be in New Orleans, this summer, so stay tuned to their website for some amazing summer cooking and grilling inspiration.
You can go to mortonsalt/nextdoorchef to see more pictures from our meal, and learn how you could actually host your own Next Door Chef party, using the same recipes we had at our event. If you’d like to host your own “Next Door Chef” party, or have a recipe idea for using Morton Kosher or Sea Salt, post your photos using the hashtag: #NextDoorChef