Last week my neighbor, Courtney, asked me to guest blog on her fabulous site, A Life from Scratch. Of course, I was honored!!! While she was on spring break I decided to think spring. I know Courtney loves salmon and this Thomas Keller recipe may seem steppy and a bit fancy, but it pulls together quickly with amazing results. Perfect recipe for a spring dinner party! The leeks are boiled and then put in an ice bath to stop the cooking and to retain the beautiful green color. Then the delicate soft leeks are reheated in stock which adds a perfect composition of flavor. The salmon is simply cooked skin side down to create a salty, crisp texture. And THAT SAUCE is simple and divine. It’s really just chopped shallots, cooked in white wine and then, when the wine has reduced quite a bit, you whisk is some butter (OK maybe it’s more than some) then add the aromatic herbs. Serve with a mixed green salad and some crusty bread to soak up that sauce!
Crispy Skin Salmon, Leeks, Fines Herbs Beurre Blanc (Adapted from Thomas Keller) Serves 4
For the Leeks/Beurre Blanc
8 large leeks (I used 5)
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 large thyme sprig
1 large Italian parsley sprig, plus 1 t minced parsley
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz. unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and chilled
2-3 T chicken stock
1 t minced /tarragon/chives/parsley
4 6-oz pieces of center-cut salmon fillet, skin and bones removed
kosher salt and white pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
**To make this recipe easier to get through I “stepped it out”! Have all your ingredients prepared and this pulls together quickly.
1.Use only the light green sections of the leeks. Cut the light green sections into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.
2. Place the rounds in a large bowl of warm water and swish them gently to remove any dirt, being careful not to separate the rounds. Lift them out of the water.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Add half the leeks to the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender.
4. Transfer leeks to a colander or strainer and plunge them into the ice bath for no more than 15 seconds.
5. Drain and repeat with the remaining leeks.
6. The leeks can be prepared to this point up to a day ahead, covered, and stored in the refrigerator
1.Put the shallots, thyme, parsley sprig, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and add the white wine and champagne vinegar.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to about 1 Tablespoon. Remove from heat.
3. To finish, add the heavy cream to the reduction, place the pan over medium heat, and simmer to reduce the liquid by half. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
4. Begin adding the butter one piece at a time, whisking constantly to keep the sauce emulsified. Add a new piece of butter before the previous one has completely melted.
5. The sauce should remain warm to the touch but not be simmering. When all the butter is incorporated, strain the beurre blanc into a small saucepan.
6. Stir in the stock and keep in a warm place.
1.The thinnest part of the fillet should not measure less than 1/2 inch thick. If the salmon is cold, let it stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before cooking.
2. Season the skinned side with salt and white pepper. Season the other side with salt only.
3. Heat 1/8 inch of canola oil in a large nonstick skillet.
4. When the oil is hot, place the salmon skinned side down in the hot oil and cook on one side only for about 5-6 minutes. Regulate the temperature, turning it down as necessary to keep the edges from browning too quickly. The fish is done when the bottom is crispy, and the fillet is cooked about halfway up the flesh. The top should still be rare.
***If this is your only take away from this recipe… TAKE-IT! Favorite way to cook skin on salmon.
1.Put the leeks in a medium saucepan, add the 1/2 cup stock, and heat over medium heat until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Gently warm the beurre blanc and stir in the minced parsley, tarragon, and chives.
3. Divide the sauce among serving plates, place the leeks in the middle of the plate, and top with a salmon fillet.