Monday, May 4, 2015

Strawberries and Salmon - who knew?

Confession time again - I am a true Pacific Northwest girl, and can eat lovely pink salmon prepared in just about any way that you can figure out how to serve it; grilled, smoked, barbecued, baked, fresh poke - you name it, I will eat it.  (my kids and Tom too!)

My belief is that salmon is just one of nature's perfect foods.

(as long as you get all of the bones out!)

It all started with my birthday trip up to Napa and Dry Creek last weekend. I begged Tom to stop at Jacuzzi Winery at the edge of Sonoma to do a little olive oil tasting and balsamic vinegar sampling. If you are any kind of "foodie" - this is a must gourmet stop on a trip to wine country.

And look - they were having a sale! Perfect time to stock up on goodies. A new bottle of their special Master Blend olive oil, maybe a little bottle of the Arbequina Olive Oil, a new jar of Herbs de Provence and of course, the strawberry balsamic vinegar.

( I may have a problem...)

The Salmon part of this feast is super super simple:

Shopping List
1. Really good filets of salmon. Avoid farmed if you can. (1/2 lb. per person)

2. Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3. Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

4. A dash of Herbs de Provence
Use your handy dandy "bone" tweezers to remove all of the stray bones.  Spread olive oil on salmon, and season with salt, pepper and spices.

Grill salmon pink flesh side down for approximately 3 minutes, then flip over on skin side, grill for 7 minutes. Look for fat to start showing on surface of fish, indicating that it is done.   DO not overcook!

Strawberry Balsamic Sauce

Shopping List:
  1. 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  2. Fresh sprigs of rosemary, chopped for 1 Tablespoon (dried will work, but be careful, because sometimes dried is like floating pine needles in your sauce!)
  3. 1 Shallot finely minced (1/4 - 1/3 cup)
  4. 1/3 cup chicken broth
  5. 1/3 cup strawberry preserves
  6. 3 Tablespoons strawberry balsamic vinegar.  Note: I used strawberry vinegar, but you plain balsamic vinegar is fine
  7. 3/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries (I also add blackberries when I can find them)
  8. 2-3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter to whisk in the sauce at the end. This final step makes all the difference, trust me.
Heat pan on medium with olive oil, add shallots to skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes until starting to caramelize.  Mix all chicken broth, strawberry preserves, vinegar and rosemary together in a separate bowl and then add to cooking shallots.  Simmer 3-4 minutes until beginning to thicken, then add in the fresh strawberries.  Simmer a few more minutes until thick, then whisk in the cold butter, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until your sauce becomes a nice consistency.

Serve on a bed of baby greens - fabulous! 

And the wine?  We highly recommend a lovely Pinot!   We are a little picky about our Pinot (there are a lot of bad bad Pinots on the market)  Luckily we found a fabulous choice from Stuhlmuller Vineyards last weekend, curated from their vines on the Russian River Valley.

I promise you, this simple sauce works magic on salmon!

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