I missed posting this for Easter – good thing Mother’s Day is right around the corner! How about rosé wine poached salmon infused with herbs and sauced with lemony Parmesan cream for brunch?
Chef Eric Ripert, a master at enhancing the natural flavor and texture of fish, prefers the mi-cuit or ‘half cooked’ effect for his main course Spring salmon dish and poaches open lid so the top of the fish is warm and moist but rare while the rest is cooked perfectly to a hot medium-rare temperature. By poaching in liquid just under a simmer, the fish cooks slowly and the fats don’t coagulate into that white oozing yucky stuff (hey, not to be confused with my super yummy lemony Parm cream, okay?).
Salmon is not the only fish poached at Le Bernardin. The halibut is poached (and totally submerged) in a velouté, a combination of flour & water infused with citrus & vermouth. This is a heavier poaching liquid and halibut is a denser fish, so the natural juices are locked in more effectively. It also gives the fish a sleek glossy look when decanted. It is very difficult when cooking multiple pieces of halibut (white) in a creamy liquid (also white) for a restaurant that seats around 240 covers a night. Think about all those pieces of fish submerged and how challenging it is to pull them out at the right time and keep them organized. Ah, the memories of poaching on the line at Le Bernardin…
Pommes Anna, a thinly sliced potato cake, is a favorite garnish of Guy Savoy’s – especially with truffle. (If you have eaten at Guy Savoy then you’ve probably had more truffles on more dishes than you ever though possible – and he does get the biggest blackest truffles in France – I know that for a fact). To make Pommes Anna, potatoes are thinly cut and layered into a thick stack and roasted. Chef Savoy prefers each potato to be punched out into a perfect circle and layered singly onto huge sheet trays. They are roasted with lots of clarified butter and each circle must be perfectly golden brown to receive Chefs approval. I mean perfectly browned. Thankfully I never worked the garnish station but I did watch mes amis suffer through the grueling perfectly sculpted veg garnishes from the security of the meat station.
I didn’t bother with all the sculpting for this recipe – I just mandolined those cute little baby Spring potatoes and left the skins on for a rustic look – yeah, total rebellion against my training, but what can I say?
The lemony Parmesan cream sauce is as simple as reducing cream to the consistency of heavy oil and adding grated Parmesan to tighten it up with some lemon zest and a few tablespoons of the poaching liquid. Be careful not to boil this sauce after adding the Parm or the oils in the cheese will separate and the sauce will look broken and greasy. There’s no flour in this recipe and I wish people would stop adding roux to cream sauces because I hate that glop-y white stuff on Pasta and fish. Reduced cream is thick enough on its own! This basic sauce is good for pasta too and it’s great with the addition of caraway seeds if you’re a rye lover.
All these 3-Michelin star techniques are easy! Treat your Mom to a classic French brunch! I’m sure she deserves the very best!
And Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out There!
- 2 center-cut salmon filets, skin removed, anywhere between half-pound to a pound total weight depending on how generous you want to be
- 1 cup rosé wine
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tarragon sprigs
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 pounds small baby potatoes thinly sliced on a mandolin
- 1/2 stick of butter, clarified (melted and oil removed from solids)
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- Sea salt
- 1 cup cream
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- zest of 1 Meyer lemon
- pinch of nutmeg
- Sumac for garnish
For the Pommes Anna: Preheat oven to 425˚F. Thinly slice baby potatoes with a mandolin and layer so each slice is slightly overlapped on a rimmed baking sheet brushed with clarified butter. Brush the tops with more clarified butter, season with sea salt and fresh thyme leaves, and roast until golden brown and crispy. Make sure to baste with butter every five minutes. These can be made ahead of time and held at room temperature and reheated on the pick up.
For the Cream sauce: Reduce the cream by one-third in a small sauce pot over medium heat or until it has the consistency of thick oil. When ready to serve the sauce ,reheat to a simmer and add a few tablespoons of the rosé wine poaching liquid (too much and the sauce will look pink if using a darker rosé). Add the grated Parmesan, lemon zest, and nutmeg; whisk until smooth. Keep warm. Do not try to refrigerate and reheat because the oils will separate. This can be held at room temp until ready to serve and gently reheated.
For the Poached fish: In a small sauté pan just big enough for the two fish filets, bring the wine to a simmer and the shallot, herbs, and peppercorns. Turn down the heat until the liquid is steaming hot but there are not tiny bubbles and add the salmon. Poach the fish slowly until the sides look lighter pink but the top is still rare. To test for doneness gently squeeze the sides of the filets. If they are taught with no squish, the fish is well done. If the sides squish easily without any resistance, they are still rare. If there is a slight squish with some resistance you've got your medium rare. Of course you can always use a thermometer or a tiny testing rod....
Steam asaparagus and plate with pommes anna on the bottom and the salmon and asparagus over. Sauce with the lemony Parm cream and sprinkle sumac over a little extra sour acidity!