Sunday, December 22, 2013


makes four servings

4 pieces salmon fillet, preferably King, about 6 oz. each and 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
1 1/3 cups medium-bodied red wine, such as Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, or a light Merlot
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 oz. thickly-sliced bacon or braised bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips
about 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced and chilled
1/2 cup finely diced carrots (2 oz.)
1/2 cup finely diced celery (2 oz.)
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onions (2 oz.)
2 cups cooked flageolets, drained, cooking liquid reserved
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf

Seasoning the salmon: [For the best flavor, do this several hours in advance]: Season the salmon evenly with salt. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

Cooking the salmon: Preheat the broiler. Position the rack about 6 inches from the element.

Place the wine in a small saucepan and reduce to about 1/3 cup. Add the chicken stock and return to a simmer. Turn off the heat.

Place the bacon in a 12- or 14-inch ovenproof skillet and lightly brown it in its own fat over medium heat. Reduce the heat slightly and pour off all but a film of the fat. Add about 2 tablespoons of the butter, the carrots, celery, onions, and 1 sprig of the thyme. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes.

Add the flageolets, about 1 cup of the red wind-stock mixture, the bay leaf, another sprig of thyme, and about 3 tablespoons of the butter. Raise the heat to medium and swirl as the liquid comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, add the salmon, and swirl and tilt the pan to baste the top of the fish. Make sure no beans, bacon, or bits of vegetables are perched on top of the fish, where they could burn. The pieces of fish should not be touching one another.

Place the pan under the broiler. Cook for about 6 or 7 minutes; the salmon should be quite rare and the whole surface of the dish should be sizzling and beginning to color. Watch closely; if the fish or beans threaten to char at any point, reduce the oven temperature to 500.

While the fish is cooking, set four plates in the oven to heat for a minute or so, then remove.

Transfer the pan to the stovetop. Using a spatula and tongs, transfer the salmon onto the warm plates, where it should reach medium-rare as you finish the sauce. Protect from drafts.

Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Taste. If the liquid looks or tastes thin, simmer briefly to reduce and allow the starch from the beans to bind the sauce. If it seems winy, add a splash of the reserved bean cooking liquid. If you want more sauce, add the last splash of red wine-stock mixture and some bean liquid. Correct the salt. Reduce the heat and swirl in some or all of the remaining butter, to your taste.

Spoon the saucy beans over the waiting fish.

bacon recipe courtesy of: The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes & Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant, by Judy Rodgers; NY: W.W. Norton & Company; pp. 325-326

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