Crispy Skinned Salmon with Mushroom and Leek Risotto

by Emily Kemme

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Mushroom and Leek Risotto

While summer is the time when there are so many outdoor activities to draw us away from the kitchen, preparing this simple meal won’t keep you inside for long. The risotto requires minimal effort, other than stirring the pot, and this skillet method for quickly searing salmon fillets will leave you wondering why you never attempted to cook salmon this way before. The result will be restaurant quality, and you can be dining al fresco within an hour.

For the Risotto:

8 cups low-salt chicken stock (such as Kitchen Basics)

2 T unsalted butter, divided

1/4 lb crimini mushrooms, stem ends trimmed, and thickly sliced

2 T olive oil

2 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, chopped

1 fennel bulb, chopped (you may discard the stem and fronds, or save for another use)

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups arborio rice

Note:  The type of rice is particularly important for a risotto. Arborio, a short-grain Italian rice, is perfect, because it retains its shape while cooking, while remaining firm and chewy. Its high starch content gives a creamy, comfort-food sort of texture, which is why we make risotto in the first place!

1 cup dry white wine

4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried

2 T crème fraîche or sour cream

1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped, plus extra for garnish

2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed and drained

salt and pepper to taste

Risotto only sounds difficult, but all it takes is about twenty minutes of stirring time. Quickly sear the fish, and dinner is ready!

Risotto only sounds difficult, but all it takes is about twenty minutes of stirring time. Quickly sear the fish, and this earthy, Italian-styled dinner is ready!

Bring stock to simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and keep covered.

Melt 1 T butter in a large, wide saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl.

Heat oil and remaining 1 T butter in same pan over medium heat. Add leeks, fennel, and garlic. Sauté, but do not brown, until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat grains with oil, about 2 minutes. The rice should give off a nice, toasty smell. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated.

Add 1 cup warm stock, and stir until liquid is almost absorbed. Continue to add stock by cupfuls, allowing it to be absorbed by the rice, before adding the next cupful. Stir often, but it need not be continuously. This process takes about 15-20 minutes.

Add spinach, crème fraîche or sour cream, Parmesan, chives, peas, and reserved mushrooms. Stir over low heat, until spinach is wilted and cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm, until ready to serve.

 

For Salmon: 

Recommended tools:  A large, heavy skillet; long thin spatula; Thermapen Thermometer (not essential, you can also use the “looks ready” method, which I often rely on, but this is one hot tool!)

Thermapen Thermometer

You don’t have to have one, but there is nothing else like it, when you NEED to know how just how hot things are getting in your kitchen. www.thermoworks.com

4 – 8oz center cut salmon fillets, skin on

fine sea salt and pepper

1/3 cup olive oil

Rinse salmon fillets, and dry completely with paper towels. Salt and pepper both sides.

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently lay fillets skin side down (to prevent oil from splattering). Using metal spatula, lightly press down on fillets, making sure each has good contact with the skillet, for about 6 minutes, or until skin is crispy, and fillet turns easily. Flip fillets and cook on reverse side for about 2 minutes, or until thermometer registers 130°F for medium. If you prefer a more done fish, cook until desired temperature.

Transfer salmon, skin side down, to a paper towel lined plate, until ready to serve. To remove skin, gently slide (clean) spatula between skin and flesh, working your way underneath the fillet. It should detach easily.

 

To Serve:  

Spoon risotto into wide, shallow bowls. Lay fillet across risotto, and garnish with remaining chives.

Wine Pairings:  Stephanie Davis, Certified Sommelier from Winacea LLC, tells us, “If you use a dry white wine to cook with, it will taste great in your glass when it is time to dine. This risotto would pair nicely with an Italian Pinot Grigio such as Maso Canali. It has more depth and complexity than most Pinot Grigios, due to the small percentage of Chardonnay used in the blend. Alternatively, if the last drop of your white wine was used for the recipe, try a glass of Italian Pinot Nero (aka, Pinot Noir) with the risotto! The earthy flavors of the dish will complement the nuances in this red wine by Castelfeder.

Ciao!

A dry, white Pinot Grigio from Maso Canali can be simmered in the risotto, and sipped along with it!

A dry, white Pinot Grigio from Maso Canali can be simmered in the risotto, and sipped along with it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The simple, heartiness of this meal allows for a light, red Pinot Nero, the perfect match for salmon. It's your choice!

The simple, heartiness of this meal allows for a light, red Pinot Nero, the perfect match for salmon. It’s your choice!

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