Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Salmon En Cocotte

It was a night that didn't go exactly according to plan.  I got stuck late at work and then still had to go to the grocery store before dinner.  At the rate I was moving, we wouldn't be eating until midnight, but I really wanted to give this Salmon En Cocotte a whirl.

Once all the ingredients were in my eco-friendly grocery bags, I was ready to go.  The husband wasn't home yet, so I took my time slicing and dicing.  I was having a nice time cooking, but I couldn't help but wonder when the husband was going to be home.  I figured if I was going to make hot dinner, we should probably eat it before it got cold.

After all my lolly-gagging, I finally pulled the salmon out of the oven around 8:30, and it looked a little blahhhh.  Nuts.  I must have over-cooked it or something.

And still no husband.

To give myself some wifely credit, I waited about five more minutes before I decided it was time to get to business and eat my overdone fish.  I poured myself a (tall) glass of wine and sat down at the table.

As if on cue, the husband walked in the door.  "Hi, hon!  Sorry I'm late.  I had a meeting, and my phone died, so I couldn't call."

He had tried to call!  That's all a girl can ask for.  So, I filled up his plate with (still hot!!) dinner, and we sat down to our salmon.

I tasted it, and GLORY BE!  Forget its gray-ish hue, I could eat an entire pan of this stuff.  It was excellent.

So, although it didn't seem to be going well, a little hot dinner set our evening right.

Salmon En Cocotte*
*Don't let the fancy French name fool you!  This dinner is much more simple than it sounds.
Adapted from Entertaining by Cooks Illustrated
Serves: 4    

4 skinless salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and rinsed thoroughly
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (preferably Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into two pieces

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees.  Pat fillets dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat until shimmering.  Add leeks, thyme, and a pinch of salt.  Cover, and cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Remove pot from the heat.

Lay fillets, skinned side down, on top of leeks.  Place large sheet of foil over the pot and press to seal, then tightly cover with lid.  Transfer pot to the oven and cook until salmon is opaque and flakes apart with a fork, about 25 minutes.  The internal temperature should be 125 degrees.  (The salmon won't have the lovely golden color of pan-seared salmon, but don't be fooled!  It will still taste delicious.)

Transfer salmon to a serving platter and tent loosely with foil.  Stir wine into leeks in pot and simmer over medium-high heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Off heat, whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon sauce over salmon and serve.

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