The March issues of my food magazines have begun to arrive in the mail. As usual I'm a bit behind in my reading—it was only toward the end of this week that I finally had a minute to sit down and look through the January issues of these same magazines. I'm glad that I didn't just bypass the January and February issues though in an attempt to be current...I would have missed out. The January Bon Appetit in particular was filled with beautiful and inspirational food. I was especially drawn to an image of a platter of slow roasted salmon....so vivid I wanted to reach in and pick up a piece with my fingers. I could already taste it.
Slow roasted salmon is delicious. So moist and succulent that Suzanne Goin compares its texture to custard. It is also extremely easy to prepare. If you have never cooked fish (or don't cook it very often) because you are worried about overcooking it, this would be a good method to try. As the article in Bon Appetit emphasizes, it is difficult to overcook fish when using this slow, gentle, low-heat method. You don't need any special equipment...or even any special seasonings. The recipe in Bon Appetit includes citrus, fennel, spices and herbs...but all you really need is olive oil, salt and pepper. Simply place the salmon (in one large piece—skinned or not, as you prefer...although I think it's easier to serve if the skin is removed prior to cooking) in an oiled baking dish, season well with salt and pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil and place in a 250° to 275° oven.
Bake until the salmon flakes when prodded and is still a bit translucent in the center. An instant read thermometer, inserted at the thickest part of the filet, will read between 120° and 125°. This will take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the size and the thickness of the filet.
Break into large chunks and serve.
Artichokes began arriving in the stores sometime during the last couple of weeks and I have been looking for a reason to bring some home. I finally bought a couple yesterday, knowing they would be delicious with the slow roasted salmon. To prepare them I made a pared down version of a classic Provençal braise of artichokes called a barigoule. In traditional versions of this dish, whole turned artichokes are gently simmered in a flavorful broth made up of thinly sliced aromatic vegetables, white wine, water and olive oil. The aromatic vegetables that are used vary a bit from version to version...but not too much. They include onions, leeks, carrots, fennel, celery and garlic. Thyme, bay, and winter savory are other traditional flavoring agents. For my simplified barigoule I only used onions, carrots, garlic, thyme and bay. And instead of simmering the whole turned artichokes, I sliced them first. I varied the stew a bit more by slipping in some halved baby potatoes for the last 20 minutes or so. I love potatoes with artichokes....and adding them to the stew made it so I didn't have to prepare a separate starch to round out our meal.
When I plated the vegetables and salmon, I spooned some salsa verde over everything. Although the barigoule and salmon would have been delicious on their own, the bright and lively flavors of this sauce were the perfect finishing touch.
Slow Roasted Salmon for Two
2/3 to 3/4 pounds salmon filet, in one piece (center cut filet, if possible), skin and bones removed
salt & freshly ground black pepper
about 2 T. olive oil
Drizzle some of the olive oil in a baking dish that is just large enough to hold the salmon. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Place in the baking dish (skinned-side down) and drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat.
Place the baking dish in a 275° oven and bake until the salmon is cooked to your liking. It should feel springy to the touch, but flake with a bit of encouragement. If you like it medium-rare, it should still be slightly translucent in the center. I like mine at about 120°. Start checking at 25 minutes. Use two large spoons to remove large chunks and serve.
Quick Artichokes Barigoule with Baby Potatoes
2 T. olive oil
1/2 of a medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced on a slight angle
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
salt & pepper, to taste
a sprig of two of fresh thyme
2 globe artichokes, turned and rubbed with lemon
1/3 c. dry white wine
1 c. water
1 small (or half a large) bay leaf
1/2 lb. small creamer or fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise (the halves should be about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick)
Warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a wide sauteuse set over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot along with a pinch of salt. Sweat, reducing the heat if necessary, until the vegetables have begun to soften but have not begun to color (the onions should be tender and translucent)—about 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a moment or two, or until the garlic is fragrant.
Slice the artichokes thickly (about 1/3-inch) and add to the pan along with another tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the artichokes begin to sizzle gently.
Add the white wine, bring to a rapid simmer and reduce by half. Add the water along with the bay, return to a simmer, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Uncover the pan and taste the broth. Add more salt if necessary. Add the potatoes, nestling them down into the broth. Cover and continue to simmer until all the vegetables are tender—another 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the thyme and bay, taste and correct the seasoning and serve.
To serve the Salmon and Barigoule together, begin roasting the salmon when you add the artichokes to the barigoule. While the salmon and artichokes cook, prepare the salsa verde. (For this particular dish, I prepared it without the anchovy...but it is fine to leave it in if you want. For the herbs I used all parsley, but artichokes are delicious with basil and mint, so feel free to use some of one or the other of these if you have some on hand.) If either the salmon or vegetables are done before the other, simply set the finished item aside in a warm place until the other is finished cooking—this shouldn't be too long....maybe 10 minutes at the outside. Divide the barigoule between two plates (making sure to get all the delicious broth) and arrange chunks of the roasted salmon over the vegetables, drizzling with the pan juices as you do. Spoon some of the salsa verde over each plate—focusing mostly on the salmon and drizzling some into the vegetable stew. Pass more salsa verde separately.
These recipes are written for two, but they can be increased to serve as many as you like. This would be a beautiful dish to serve family style in a deep platter or shallow gratin.