I was feeling a bit seafoody today, so I decided to combine a nice healthy fish like salmon (and a sustainably produced one, for those who care about such things) with the heart attack on a plate that is beurre blanc. This recipe comes together fairly fast, so despite looking somewhat elegant on the plate it is actually surprisingly amenable to quick preparation on a work night. For this particular picture I served with sides of sautéed spinach and lightly candied sweet potatoes.
In the interest of full disclosure, this is not a classic beurre blanc. Rather, it is a “hacked” version that substitutes heavy cream for some of the butter, both for easier preparation (the proportion of acidic reduction in the regular version is very small for this recipe scale) and because it is harder to break, being not nearly as heat sensitive as the regular version, which has a pretty tight temperature range that can be pretty hard to maintain unless you happen to have a steam table at home, which I’m guessing you don’t. Here is your ingredient list to make enough for 4 servings:
- 1 tsp clarified butter
- 1 tbsp minced shallot
- 3 oz dry white wine
- 4 oz heavy cream
- 4 oz (1 stick) softened whole butter (unsalted)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
- Kosher Salt and White Pepper
Just as an aside, if you’re not already in the habit, it’s helpful to keep a container of clarified butter in the fridge for small recipes like this. It keeps for a good long time, like regular butter, so just scrape out a little chunk to make that omelet or whatever, and pop the rest back in the fridge until the next dish.
Back to our recipe: In a small sauce pan heat the clarified butter over medium-high heat and sweat the shallots until translucent but not browned – which won’t take any time at all, so be careful. Add the wine and reduce by half. Next add the cream and slowly reduce by two-thirds. You’ll probably want to back the heat to medium-low at this point to prevent scorching. When the reduction is complete, turn off the heat and begin whisking in the butter about 1-2 tbsp at a time until fully incorporated and smoothly blended. Lastly, stir in the lemon juice and dill, then season to taste with the salt and pepper. You can now hold your sauce over LOW heat while you prep the salmon, but keep a close eye on it and stir it occasionally.
For the salmon, you’ll want to select some 8-10 ounce tranches from your grocery’s seafood counter. Season them with salt and white pepper. Oil the grate on your grill (or in my case, a cast-iron grill pan) to prevent sticking and bring it up to medium-high heat. When the grill is hot, place the salmon cuts face-down at a 45-degree angle to the grating. Cook for a few minutes, long enough to develop sear marks, then turn the cuts 90 degrees and cook a few minutes more to create cross-hatched searing. Turn the cuts over to finish cooking with the skin side down, which should take a few more minutes depending on thickness.
That’s it, mission accomplished. Put the salmon on the plate, spoon on some of the beurre blanc, and add your favorite sides. Munch down with a big happy grin on your face. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and I would love to hear your feedback. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!