Bourbon Salmon with Wild Mushroom Sauce
Comment: since all these dishes cook quickly, timing is key. This whole meal was prepared in about 30 minutes. I’ve tried to put the recipes in order of how I’d prepare them. Read over the whole process before you start.
16 fresh, closed mussels (8 per person)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5-6 sprigs fresh lemon thyme if you have it, otherwise use dried thyme or any herb you like.
1 green onion, slicedÂ (or shallot, or regular onion)
Dry sherry or white wine
Clean and debeard the mussels. If you need to hold them for more than 30 minutes, put a wet paper towel on them and keep in the fridge.
Stop here and get the salmon into the marinade, below.
Start your garlic and onions in the oil in a deep pot over med high flame. When your aromatics are sizzling, toss in your mussels. Put in a couple of splashes of sherry and toss the herbs on top. Put the lid on and DO NOT look at them. When the steam comes from under the lid, let them go for 5 minutes then kill the heat. Let them stand for 5 minutes and serve in bowls with the cooking liquid. Serve with crusty bread if you like.
approx. 1# King Salmon fillet (for 2 servings)
mirin (sweet rice wine)
Mix about 1/2 cup bourbon, 1/4 cup mirin and 2-3 Tbl of brown sugar in a shallow dish. Place salmon fillet skin side UP and let marinate while you cook and eat the mussels if you are doing the appetizer. If you are not doing the mussels, marinate for 15-30 minutes. Heads up, you will retain this marinade for the sauce so don’t toss it!
Sautéed Spinach with Pancetta
1 bag fresh spinach
1 Tbl diced pancetta (bacon will work, too, one slice)
2 cloves garlic
shredded parmesan for garnish
Start pancetta and garlic with some olive oil in a good sized skillet over med high flame. When the pancetta starts to brown, start putting in your spinach. It looks like a lot, but it will cook down to 2 servings. Really. Keep working in all the spinach by putting fresh on top and turning it under with tongs. When all the spinach has cooked down, splash with balsamic vinegar. It will have the parmesan sprinkled on when you plate it.
Now is the time to take the salmon and put it on a broiling pan. Put the fish skin side DOWN, put a little butter on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stick it under the broiler. The fish will take about 15 minutes for a 1# fillet. You’ll need more thyme (or any herb) to dress this when it’s done. I strongly recommend lemon thyme if you can find it. It is delicious with the sauce!
I use Near East brand. Follow package instructions. It will take about 10 minutes. Rice is fine with this dish, too, but it takes 25-30 minutes, so start it first.
Wild Mushroom and Bourbon sauce
1/2 package of wild mushroom mix available at most groceries (for 2 servings)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
the reserved marinade from step 1
In a nonstick skillet over a med high flame, start the garlic in olive oil, about 4 turns of the pan. When the garlic starts to sizzle, toss in the shrooms. Put in the butter and when it is melted and everything is sizzly, sprinkle in about 1Tbl flour. Stir until the flour becomes pasty. Pour in about half of the reserved marinade (about 2/3 to 1 cup) and turn up the flame to high. Don’t worry about cross contamination, this liquid is being boiled for the sauce. When the liquid starts to boil and thicken, add a splash of mirin and a splash of sherry. When the sauce is almost the thickness you want, turn off the heat and it will continue to thicken. If it goes too far, you can add chicken stock, more sherry or water to adjust the consistency.
Check the salmon. It should be about 5 minutes away from being done. You are looking for a nice brown color – which is created by the butter and the sugar in the marinade.
At this point, your dishes are all about to finish, so get your plates ready.
To plate: start with about 2/3 c cous cous. Place 1/2 the large fillet (cut longways, without skin) on top of the cous cous. Put about 2/3 cup of spinach (about half of what you have) along side the fish. Spoon half the sauce over the fish. Garnish the spinach with parmesan and the sauce with lemon thyme (or whatever you’re using). Voilà!
We served this with a med body Spanish red wine, but a strong chardonnay would work. Enjoy!