RAISING THE BAR

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Did you know that at one-time (in the days of Tudor England) salmon was so plentiful that farmers fed it to their pigs?  No, I didn’t either, but found it an interesting fact. But on to why I’m writing… salmon is salmon. Rarely do we serve it without herbal garnishes, sauces on the side, rubs and dubs. It’s so mild that a spike in flavor is necessary, which is why there are zillions of recipes for salmon.

When you want to get fancy, to raise the bar on your salmon service, try coupling salmon with vegetables and seasonings and then wrapping the entire concoction in a pastry dough. Voila! Salmon en Croute (salmon in pastry dough) is a show stopper and your guests will beg for your recipe.  You can be as creative as you want as long as the whole shebang can be neatly tucked into puff pastry and baked!

Below is my recipe for Salmon en Croute with Mushrooms, Scallions and Spinach. If you have a thick piece of salmon, cut it in half and place the stuffing in the middle. If it’s thin, build the vegetables on top. One word of advice:  Keep the piece small. It’ll wrap easier and you’ll be able to flip it over to tuck in the pastry seam. But more on that later.  Enjoy!

Mise en Place:
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil for several uses in the recipe
2 tablespoons butter, softened
An additional knob of butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
7 spring onions, sliced up to the green
½ teaspoon sugar
1 pound fresh spinach
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, mixed with a splash of water for pastry egg wash
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
Flour for bench and rolling pin
1 pound salmon

Utensils and Tools:
Vegetable knife
Cutting board
Large skillet
2 Forks
2 Plates for cooling
Baking tray
Pastry brush
Measuring spoons
Bowl for egg
Rolling pin
Parchment
Very large spatula

METHOD:
Butter. Vegetable Oil. Mushrooms. Spring Onions. Sugar.
Using medium heat, combine butter and oil in the skillet and heat until the butter bubbles have subsided. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until they have a golden color. Use the forks to flip the mushrooms so both sides will be golden. Add the spring onions and sugar, and toss for two minutes. Remove to a plate to cool.

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Olive Oil. Spinach. Lemon Juice.
Using the same skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat on medium. Add the spinach and toss until all is wilted. Add the lemon juice and toss again. Remove to a plate to cool and drain.

Flour. Puff Pastry Sheet. Salt.
Splash the flour on your bench and roll the puff pastry into a large rectangle, with enough dough to completely encase the salmon — top, sides and bottom. Leave at least 1 1/2 inches of dough on the ends to tuck in. Sprinkle salt onto the pastry to season it.

Now for the tricky part:

Secure the parchment onto the baking tray with dabs of butter before placing the parchment onto the tray.

Salmon. Mushroom Mix. Spinach. Salt and Pepper.
Place the salmon onto the pastry. Drain the spinach and then decoratively place the mushrooms and spinach onto the salmon and season with salt and pepper.

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Wrap the pastry up and around the salmon, top and bottom. When it’s encased, gently and carefully flip the salmon so the pastry seam is on the bottom. Fold the ends like an envelope to secure.

Egg Wash.
Slice the top of the pastry very gently into a herringbone pattern, without slicing completely through. Or decorate with pastry cutter designs. Use the pastry brush to coat the encased salmon with the egg wash. VERY CAREFULLY, USING A VERY LARGE SPATULA, move the salmon onto the parchment that’s lining the baking tray. Refrigerate 15 minutes before baking.

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400F

Encased Salmon.
Place the salmon in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Check after 45 minutes to be sure the pastry is not burned. Remove when the pastry is golden brown.

Let the salmon sit for at least 15 minutes before moving it to a serving platter. Slice it carefully and serve.

Get ready for a lot of “oohs and aahs” as you Raise the Bar!

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