Every week, as I am making the meal plan and shopping list, I ask Jim what he wants for dinner. He usually says, “I don’t know”, “I don’t care”, or “Whatever”. Really helpful, right? Well, since he hadn’t had a single home cooked meal this week, he actually thought of an actual answer to what we should have for dinner on Saturday night: salmon. Now, he asked for salmon and pasta, but I focused on finding a new way to serve salmon, and would find the appropriate side dish afterwards. I mean, what do boys know about planning meals anyways? I found a recipe on Epicurious.com for this salmon featured in the February ’96 issue of Bon Appétit. It sounded great, received great reviews, and featured puff pastry, so I was sold. I did omit the rice, as I didn’t like the idea of it, and had already decided to serve the salmon with risotto.
The sauce was an unexpected surprise, as I thought it wouldn’t be necessary for the success of the final dish, but I was totally wrong. Even though it is a cream sauce, it succeeded in cutting through the richness of the salmon and pastry and added another layer of flavor. I decided not to buy clam juice for the dill sauce, as I didn’t know what I would do with the rest of it once I used the 2/3 cup the recipe calls for. If you know what you would use the left overs for, go ahead and stick with the recipe as is, but the sauce turned out fine with the substitution of chicken stock.
This was delicious. I think this would be great for company as well, as it was simple to prepare, presented beautifully, and could be made ahead of time, and baked just before serving. The recipe is made to serve 4, but this can easily be adapted for 2, by only thawing out one sheet of pastry.
- 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- ½ cup Leek, white and light green parts minced and rinsed
- 6 oz. Fresh Shitake Mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
- 2 sheets Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
- 4 6 oz. Salmon Filets, skinned
- Egg Wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
- 2/3 cup Bottled Clam Juice or Chicken Stock
- ½ cup Dry White Wine
- 1 ¼ cups Whipping Cream or Crème Fraîche*
- 3 Tbsp Fresh Dill, minced
- White Pepper
- Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add leek; sauté until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cover skillet; cook until mushrooms release their juices, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Uncover skillet. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté until liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely.
- Butter large baking sheet. Roll out 1 pastry sheet on floured surface to 12-inch square. Cut into 4 equal squares. Divide mushroom mixture among centers of squares, mounding in oval shape with ends toward 2 corners of pastry. Set salmon atop mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring pastry corners up around salmon (pastry will not enclose salmon completely.) Roll out remaining pastry sheet on floured surface to 13-inch square. Cut into 4 equal squares. Lay 1 square atop each salmon fillet, tucking corners under bottom pastry to enclose salmon completely. Pinch edges together to seal, brushing with egg mixture if necessary to adhere. Arrange salmon packages, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Cover and chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled.)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush top of pastry with egg mixture. Bake until golden and thermometer inserted into fish registers 145°F, about 30 minutes.
- Combine clam juice and wine in heavy small nonaluminum saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 9 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium. Whisk in crème fraîche. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in dill. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer salmon packages to plates. Spoon Dill Sauce around and serve.
*If crème fraîche is unavailable, heat 1 cup whipping cream to lukewarm (85°F). Remove from heat and mix in 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Cover and let stand in warm draft-free area until slightly thickened (24 to 48 hours, depending on temperature of room). Refrigerate until ready to use.