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Feb 21, 2005 07:01 AM

Menu Challenge: Dinner Guest Who Can't Eat Salt

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My husband has recently re-connected with some older friends of his family and we're having them over for dinner this week-end. One of the guests was quite ill some time back and now can't eat any salt. Another guest is allergic to seafood and mushrooms, though those are easy to work around. While this group (8 in total) isn't entirely a "meat and 'taters" crowd, they do lean more in that direction. Whatever I end up cooking, I want to ultimately be able to season everyone else's with salt and then leave one portion unsalted (and also make the unsalted portion as flavourful as possible, with fresh herbs, lemon zest, maybe a salt substitute, etc.). I had originally been thinking of a standing rib roast or maybe a bbq'd leg of lamb but I don't know that either would taste as good if the salt was added (for those that could have it) after it was cooked. I'm a bit stumped on this one and would greatly appreciate your wise and chowish suggestions. Many thanks.

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  1. What about a rack of lamb? Before you roast it, you can cut off a portion to prepare without salt, and season the rest with your usual condiments. Then put everything to roast in the oven at the same time. To enhance the flavour, when you are done roasting with the lamb, slice each individual piece, give each a yoghurt coating, and then encrust it in some herbed breadcrumbs (mix of Japanese panko breadcrumbs preferred, mixed herbs, chopped garlic) that is already toasted in the oven.

    1. Can the no-salt person eat cheese? It doees have salt in it of course, but it might be a way around the issue if it is okay. You could make a creamy potato gratin to accompany the meat. You could also grill individual tenderloin steaks and hold the salt on one or nice thick pork chops etc. Think individual portions instead of a big single piece of meat.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        I have a no-salt person in my family, and he can't eat (salted) cheese.

        1. re: KB

          Cheese is usually high in sodium.
          My mother is on a salt restricted diet and I do not cook with salt, but do use other herbs.
          Check the American Heart Assoc. they may have some recipes or a cookbook you could use for more info.

          Remember the other guests could always use the shaker at the table to salt their own food.

      2. I favor Candy's idea of chops or steaks that can be cooked (and seasoned) individually.

        But you need to get a little more info on the "no salt" thing. If the person is eating ultra-low sodium, any salt (like the salt in cheese) would be verboten whether you add it or it's added in the manufacturing process. Also, check into whether pork (naturally higher in sodium than beef, IIRC) is permissable.

        Also, do check before using a salt substitute. Not everyone is permitted to use them by their doctors.

        One last thought: Exercise caution about "making the unsalted portion as flavorful as possible with fresh herbs, lemon zest . . . " If this individual is used to low salt food, s/he's probably used to a more bland "affect" than you are. You might ask about his/her preferences. Many "meat & potatoes" folks don't like "fancy" seasonings.

        1. I would consider making Marcella Hazan's Chicken with Two Lemons but use oil and herbs under the skin instead of the salt. The lemons will provide a lovely, salt-free juice to ladle over the meat of the salt-free guest (and others who may like it); you could also make a classic sauce for the rest of the guests who would might want something more than that.

          1. you may want to inquire a bit more as to the nature of why they can't eat salt. if it is a kidney ailment of some kind.. they could also be sensitive to too much potassium, etc. also.. if it is a heart/cholesterol issue.. they may also need to avoid saturated fat.

            i agree with the garlic, herbs, lemon idea... these can go a long way towards livening up an otherwise less flavorful (salt free) dish. we use a lot of salt free rubs too... like tandoor seasonings on chicken... and adding a little heat to things makes you not miss the salt so much. make sure to check labels and ingredients lists.. once you start looking, you'll be surprised at how many ingredients are totally salt laden.

            good luck.. I'm sure your guests will appreciate your efforts.