Grilling season has begun. How about trying something new! Have you grilled on a salt block? Pink Himalayan salt blocks are beautiful and versatile and add just the right amount of flavor to anything you grill on it. I received mine several years ago as a Mother’s Day gift. Yep that’s how I roll, knives, salt blocks, kitchen tools. My kids know just the way to my heart.
Today, I making their favorite sliders. These sliders are stepped up and notch by combining beef, pork and veal with sweet, nutty caramelized onions and Colby Jack cheese tucked inside the patty. Yum!
I’m including a little salt block 101 for those of you who have not yet ventured out into the world of cooking on salt.
Using a salt block is my favorite way to cook a steak. The unique flavor it gives the meat is amazing. Not too salty, and very juicy.
What you might not realize is salt blocks are not only for hot grilling but can also be a way to flavor cold foods. Today I’m using miniature salt blocks that have been in the freezer overnight to chill straight up tequila with a bit of lime. It imparts just the right amount of salty flavor and the beauty of salt cubes is that they are reusable. Lastly, we are making our own cold stone. I have put my second salt block in the freezer overnight to create my own cold stone. Simply place your favorite vanilla or chocolate ice cream and add the Fixin‘s on the stone. Toss it, working in the fixins with a plastic spatula until it’s mixed in. Doing this will pick up the flavor of the salt and incorporate it into your ice cream. The salt elevates the sweetness in the ice cream and brings out the flavor of chocolate. We’ve also added honey roasted peanuts and crumbled pretzels for a crunch. You won’t believe what this small detail adds to your dessert.
Salt Block 101
A Himalayan salt block is a large piece of pink salt, hand carved and formed into a plate. They are carved into rectangles, circles, squares or other neat brick-like shapes. Each plate is one of a kind and can be rough or smooth, but probably a little of both. They are a very unique way to prepare and serve vegetables, seafood, chicken and even cold dishes like raw fish. Not to mention, it will add to the conversation of any dinner party. The best part is that the block is actually healthy for you. While the salt block has antibacterial properties, it also contains over 84 essential minerals. How a salt block works is the salt and minerals are absorbed by the food while cooking. This leaves your food tasting perfectly seasoned and not over-salty, while adding the essential minerals as well.
Step 1: First thing’s first: Grab yourself our starter size 8 x 12 or 8 x 8 x 1.5 inch salt block, depending on the size of the crowd you feed.
Step 2: Go slowly! S-L-O-W-L-Y, Slow and steady wins the race. This is especially important the first few times you use your block.
When heating your salt block: Place your block on a cold (unheated) grill.
20 minutes on low
20 minutes on medium
20 minutes on high
To know when your block is ready sprinkle a few drops of water on the block. If they sizzle vigorously and disappear immediately, the block is ready.
OR … Hold your hand two or three inches above the block. If you can’t keep it there more than 5 seconds, it’s hot enough!
If you don’t trust your senses or if you love high-tech gadgets, this is the perfect time to go get yourself an infrared thermometer. It reads the temperature of your block for you. You’re looking for about 500°F.
You are now ready to throw some steak on your block.
Step 3: Simply place your food of choice on the block. Simple!
Step 4: Once you see the sear happining on the bottom side give it a flip. Use a thin metal spatula or tongs! No plastic!
1-2 minutes per side for thin slices of steak or seafood
4-5 minutes per side for thicker cuts of meat, like rib eyes or burgers.
Step 5: When the steak is done, remove from the block with your metal spatula. Once heated, you can leave the block on the burner and cook with it for several hours.
Try using your salt block to cook grilled asparagus, salt-crust Scallops, burgers, tuna steaks and more.
Step 6: Cool it! For at least one hour. Leave on cook top, turn off heat, and let stand until cool to the touch.
Cleaning your salt block:
- Rinse with hot water.
- Moisten a sponge or scouring pad
- No soap!
- Scrub the block to remove any stuck on bits.
- Wipe clean with dry towel
- No Soap!!
- Remember, A salt block has antimicrobial properties. By it’s very nature it destroys microbes and preserves food.
Step 7: Leave it alone to air dry. Or dry it with a clean cloth. You really can store it anywhere! I have mine in my pantry on the cookbook shelf on it’s side.
Just don’t leave it outside on the grill or put it in the dishwasher!
Salt blocks turn opaque after being heated, and may develop fissures or even large cracks, and they may also take on color from the proteins cooked on it. Do not worry about these things; consider them beauty marks.
Now, about those sliders… I’m starting with caramelized sweet onions. Take your time here. The reward is worth the wait.
Your salt block will turn an opaque white color when it is hot. Don’t worry it goes back to its pretty pink/orange self when it cools.
Salt Block Sliders with Caramelized Onions and a Cheesy Center
- One package of the trio of pork veal and beef
*this is often sold to make meatloaf. At Heinen’s you’ll find it all package together to equal about 1 1/4 pound.
- Slider buns of your choice
- 2 large sweet onions cut in quarters and sliced into quarter inch slices
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- lettuce and tomato and whatever burger fixings you enjoy
- 1 1/2 cup of shredded Colby Jack cheese
- One Himalayan salt block approximately 8 x 12. This size will be perfect for grilling six burgers.
- Place your salt block on a unheated grill. Bring your salt block slowly up to temperature according to the directions in my salt block 101 instructions.
- Slowly, on low heat, cook your onions in the olive oil.
Moving them frequently so they don’t burn on the bottom.
- Keep moving them around in the pan for approximately 15 to 20 minutes until they are dark caramel brown.
- Let the onions cool about 10 minutes.
- Assemble your patties by mixing all the meats together then add in the caramelized onions
*leave out a small dish of onions aside to add to the top of your burger if you like.
- Add about a tablespoon of Colby Jack shredded cheese inside each patty as you form it.
- When the salt block is ready it should be white and opaque.
- Place the slider patties on the salt block let them sear on medium high heat for approximately two minutes with the grill lid closed.
- When the bottoms look like they have caramelized turn the patties.
- Lower the heat to medium and continue grilling with the grill lid closed. Until they have reach the desired doneness.
- Fix sliders as desired and enjoy.
About the Author
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. Her Blog, Table and Dish is a website devoted to celebrating and curating the many ways that food binds us. Sally hopes that her recipes and images will inspire you to gather your friends and family in the kitchen to make memories, use the time to connect with busy kids, chat over mixing bowls, get messy, laugh, sing, set the table, clear the table, pass the salt, debate the days topics and pray. You can follow her here as a weekly contributor to 365Barrington and Heinen’s as well as via Table and Dish on Instagram and on her website at TableAndDish.com.
Have you heard about Heinen’s Tasteful Rewards™ program? Sign up for free to receive exclusive weekly specials via email and earn Heinen’s rewards. As a Tasteful Rewards™ membership benefit, Heinen’s will donate up to 1% of your qualified purchases made between September and April to a local school of your choice through their Teaming Up for Education Program. CLICK HERE to sign up for Heinen’s Tasteful Rewards™ and, trust me, this is one email that will always please your palate!
Heinen’s Grocery is located at 500 N. Hough Street, between E. Main Street and Route 14 (next to Meatheads) in Barrington, Illinois. They’re open 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit Heinens.com.