Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ease and comfort

There are a million references in the cooking world to ease and comfort. Every food related publication seems to have an area devoted to these ideas every month, they are called something reassuring like, "Quick," or "Fifteen Minute Suppers." I am generally leery of this concept because one of the basic understandings I carried with me from childhood is the knowledge that nothing worth having is easy.

Nonetheless, something about the below recipe when it was originally published in the the New York Times told me it should have fallen into the timely and comforting category rather than the luxe restaurant-food-at-home claim the article attached to the original recipe (which was for Artic Char, virtually the same thing which can be treated in the same manner as the salmon below). This is a fairly fast, unbelievably painless, and remarkably impressive dish to make.

What I have learned from this and my other fish recipe love is that given how quickly some fishes cook, my old axiom should no longer apply: A long cooked fish is a nasty fish so, let's call this easy, pretty quick, and outside the "good things take time" conventions. I am not sure it is luxe food. Though, it is deeply good, chest warming, and satisfying food.

Roasted Salmon with Ancho Shallot Butter
Serves 4
adapted from this New York Times recipe

Use more or less of the compund butter as you wish. Lovely with brown rice.

Ancho shallot butter:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small shallot, finely diced
1/4 cup white wine
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 teaspoons ground ancho chili pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt

Canola oil spray for greasing the roasting pan
4 6 ounce ounce boneless salmon fillets
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the ancho-shallot butter: In a small skillet over medium heat, heat oil and add shallot. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add wine and simmer until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To make the compound butter: In a mixing bowl, combine softened butter, ancho chili, coriander, honey, salt and sauteed shallot. Mix well until blended and smooth. (New York Times note: "May be used immediately, or covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or covered and frozen for up to 3 months; bring to room temperature before using.")

Now the salmon. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly oil a shallow metal baking pan, and arrange fillets in a single layer. Salt and pepper the fillets. Then spread each with 2 tablespoons ancho-shallot butter. Bake 10 minutes. They will still be right pink on the inside. Plate, re-spoon pan sauces over each plated filet. Serve.

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