St. Patrick’s Day
The Irish have observed St. Patrick’s feast day of March 17th for over 1,000 years and even though it falls during lent, the church for this celebration has long waved the prohibitions against meat. This is a huge national holiday throughout the country and people traditionally celebrate with a meal of Irish bacon cooked with cabbage, lots of beer, and lots of dancing.
Fresh salmon, one of Ireland’s finest food offerings and a springtime treat, is fast becoming a contender for the centerpiece of the St. Patrick’s Day meal. Especially popular is salmon poached or baked and then finished with a cream sauce. Sounds rich, and it is. I’ve lightened this dish a bit by adding white wine, lemon zest, and capers to the cream. I think this salmon would be perfect with a side of steamed asparagus and boiled new potatoes tossed with butter and parsley.
Baked Salmon with White Wine, Cream, and Capers
A 2 1/2 pound piece of wild salmon fillet (a thick center cut), skinned
½ cup dry white wine
1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
A few big scrapings of freshly ground nutmeg
½ cup of heavy cream
The grated zest from 1 small lemon
A palmful of small capers, rinsed
A few large dill sprigs, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly butter the bottom of a large baking dish (one that gives the salmon a little room to breath, about 2 inches on all sides is perfect). Place the salmon in the dish and pour on the white wine. Season it with salt, black pepper, and the nutmeg. Scatter on the shallots and dot the top with small pieces of butter. Cover with foil and bake until the salmon is just tender and still a little pink at the center, about 15 minutes or so (it should flake at the thinner ends but still be a bit pink at the thickest point).
Take the salmon from the oven and gently, with a large, long spatula, transfer it to a warmed serving platter. Cover it with aluminum foil to keep it hot.
Place the baking dish with the salmon cooking juices over a high flame and boil the juices down until you have about 3 tablespoons. Add the cream and the lemon zest and boil that down until it’s reduced by about ½, adding a little salt and fresh black pepper. Strain the cream sauce and pour it over the salmon. Scatter on the capers and the dill. Serve right away.
Written by Erica De Mane, chef and food writer. Check out her blog at www.ericademane.com