Somewhere back then — either just before or just after we moved to Reno — there was a splashy ad in one or more of the splashy cooking magazines we get — do you know how inexpensive actual glossy full color cooking magazines are these days? — for SALT ROX.
Hmmmmm… interesting idea, and probably does what it says, but awfully expensive. Costs more than all of our cooking magazine subscriptions, combined; $112, including shipping. We let it pass.
Months later, a UPS package is left on our porch. Darned heavy.
Hours later, Carol asks me to take a look at “your anniversary gift” so I can try it before Eric and Alison visit. The deluxe 8 x 12 x 2 inches Hamalayan SALT ROX. Darned heavy. Carol got a Living Social deal — $49 including shipping, a $63 savings.
Nothing left to do but try it. We can give it a good test with something particularly bland like skinless, boneless chicken thighs. There’s even a recipe on the ad for Grilled Lemon Dijon Chicken Breasts (we don’t do breasts, we do the ever-so-slightly-less-bland thighs). To round out the dinner, I chose to do a Cabbage Panade recipe by Deborah Madison from her new cookbook, Vegetable Literacy (10 Speed Press).
[Make garlic stock, saute a sliced onion with juniper berries and sage leaves, add cabbage and cook until tender, layer in a baking dish with cheese topped rye bread slices and bake.]
Cooking on the rock is very different than straight grill cooking. One must start with the rock on a cold grill, for fear of cracking the rock by putting it on a hot grill (also for fear of burning my fingers… did I say that sucker is heavy?). I was surprised that it doesn’t take much longer to heat up the grill with the rock than without the rock… about 20 minutes.
I marinated and dried and oiled my thighs and when the grill was ready, put ‘em on. Boneless thighs don’t take long to cook — I figured six or eight minutes to 165°F.
When I opened the grill to turn them, I noticed they were “cooking wet.” Of course, they’re on a rock. The juices from the meat can’t drip into the fire (oh, a little runs off the edge). The ROX folks say “It’s like brining without the water!”
Sure enough, after about 6 minutes the thighs registered 165 and I took them inside to rest.
The chicken was excellent, moist and flavorful with a pleasant salty undercurrent. Yum. Sadly, the Cabbage Panade imagined as a perfect accompaniment, wasn’t much, lacking in flavor and the texture mooshed.
So, the SALT ROX worked.
One more test with hamburgers. Once again, they were moist, but the mildly salty edge was masked by the stronger meat flavor.
SALT ROX has rules:
start cold on a cold grill or in a cold oven.
let the rock cool completely before moving.
do not wash with anything, including water.
scrape “clean.” Stains are okay.
So… we got our ROX on. How often will we use it? Don’t know. But it seems like a good thing for chicken thighs and fish wouldn’t be a stretch. We also have our totally wonderful grill pan, and grilling season is coming on strong.