Monday, December 14, 2009

The Daring Cooks' December Challenge: Salmon en Croûte

The 2009 Daring Cooks Challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en croûte (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en croute) from Good Food Online.

Salmon en croûte (salmon wrapped in pastry and baked) is a relatively simple, but elegant, entrée for the holiday season.  We enjoyed it twice this past week (practice makes perfect), and we may try the Beef Wellington for Christmas Eve.

Beef Wellington...beef tenderloin coated with pâté de foie gras, and duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry and baked...yes, I do believe Santa will leave me a little something extra after he relaxes on the couch, by our Christmas Tree, with a plate of Beef Wellington...

You can find the recipes for Salmon en croûte and Beef Wellington, provided for the Challenge, here.  Since the only manadatory requirement for the Challenge was to wrap the salmon, or beef tenderloin filet, in pastry (shortcrust pastry or puff pastry), I strayed and experimented a little on my own.  My version was adapted to serve two; I used a dry rub on the salmon and seared it before wrapping in the pastry; and I combined a few different recipes for my filling.

Salmon Salmon en Croûte:

Shortcrust Pastry (recipe follows)
3/4 lb. - 1 lb. fresh Salmon filet
Filling (recipe follows)
1 egg, whisked, for egg wash

Shortcrust Pastry
225g (8oz) Flour
50g (2oz) Lard
50g (2oz) Butter
½ teaspoon Salt
2 -3 Tablespoons ice water

In a food processor, combine flour and salt with a few pulses.  Add lard and butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse until dough just starts to clump together. You may need to add another tablespoon of water.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare Salmon
A 3/4 lb. piece of fresh, Atlantic Salmon is a nice portion for two

Rinse and dry salmon.  Liberally sprinkle with Pacifica Del Mar Sugar Spice Rub and gently rub all over salmon until coated on all sides.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick skillet and briefly sear salmon on both sides.  Remove salmon and set aside to cool while you prepare the Leek & Spinach filling.

Leek & Spinach Filling

1 Tablespoon Butter 
1 Leek, white and light green part, thinly sliced and rinsed well
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
4 oz. fresh Spinach
1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Sauté leek in butter in a medium skillet, over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute.  Add spinach and cook for another minute, until wilted.  Add wine and cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon zest and salt and pepper.

Roll out the pastry dough to about 1/8 inch thick.  Spread the Leek/Spinach filling in the middle of the pastry and place the salmon filet on top. 

Fold the long sides of the pastry over the salmon first and then fold the short sides up, completely enclosing the salmon.  Gordon Ramsay's training video, Make the Perfect Salmon en croute,  demonstrates how to wrap the salmon properly, and his turns out much prettier than mine! 

Gently turn over and place  on a lightly greased baking sheet (hiding the not-so-perfect seams).  Make 3 small slits in top of dough with knife and top with decorative cut outs, if desired.  Lightly brush with egg wash.

Bake at 400 degrees F for approximately 25 minutes.

Slice, serve and enjoy with roasted red pototoes and a glass of Pinot Noir!

Thank you, Simone, for ths special, Holiday Challenge!  Please visit The Daring Cooks blogroll for more inspiration from our members around the world.  Happy Holidays!

San Diego Bay Holiday Parade of Lights, view from Coronado Island


Wic said...

amazing pictures, with stunning looking food.
love what you did with this challenge and adore the Santa.

Junglefrog said...

That looks absolutely lovely. I love the variation you made on the recipe and it looks so good I might have to try that next!

Jenny said...

That looks absolutely lovely. I opted for making Beef Wellington (or, actually Moose Wellington!) but I'm definitely going to try the salmon soon. That spice rub sounds so delicious!

Jenn said...

Beautiful! Love how pastry decorations too - simple yet very elegant!

Rochelle said...

Your pastry is so pretty! I also like how you made a bed of veggies for your salmon to sit on instead of the puree :)

Linda said...

your dry rub sounds out of this world! We're definitely going to try that.

Your pastry package looks gorgeous - a real work of art!

Barbara Bakes said...

Your salmon looks delicious! I would love to see the light parade sometime!

Simon said...

This looks like it would have been a great tasting dish. Nice change-up too with the spinach and leek :)

Sarah said...

Now that I've seen your pictures of how to make such a great looking pastry packages I will definitely try this again. They look delicious and good luck with Santa!

Wolf said...

I am so going to have to try that spice rub soon. Love the decorations on your pastry too!

Anonymous said...

Your salmon en croute is golden, flaky, perfection, and I love the dry rub, reminiscent of gravlax! Incredible photos too! Well done!!