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This Old Chef: Blog & Recipes

Seared Salmon on A Bed of Creamed Ham, Onions, and Celery with Dill (Hamapalooza #3)

Posted on April 30, 2017 with 0 comments

The time has come for rooftop shouting and hosanna singing!

I made a dinner of which I am inordinately proud.

This is easily in the top 5... Really!

The backstory:  we are very fond of salmon wrapped in prosciutto...

... who wouldn't be?  Prosciutto isn't always in the budget, I know.  But in the week after Easter, ham is not only in the budget, using it creatively is a major responsibility.

So I started thinking.  Ham and prosciutto are certainly kissing cousins if not identical twins.  But there would be no way to wrap the salmon...  Hmmmmm...  What about a bed of some sort?  That's where the playing began...

I chopped half an onion and two stalks of celery (from the test kitchen) into a pretty fine mince.  In a sauté pan, I set them to sweat gently in some EVOO... not to color, just to soften and cook.  When they tasted done, I added salt pepper and a splash of white wine.  When the wine was gone, I added cream - how much is up to you, but I started with 1/2 C.  As this simmered away, I diced enough ham to measure 1C and tossed it into the pan.

When I tasted this, I realized I was on to something quite extraordinary. 

Letting this simmer gently, I turned to the salmon.  I heated some EVOO in a sauté pan, salted and peppered two fillets, laid them flesh side down in the oil, cooked for about two minutes, gently turned them over, and cooked until done.  (We like the centers almost sushi-rare, so for us it was only another two minutes or so.  You may go longer, but try very rare someday, seriously.)

I removed them from the pan and removed the skin (again, up to you), put a fairly generous pool of the ham "cream" on very hot plates, placed the salmon on its bed (pretty side up, of course!), and then went the next step...  The step that changed everything.

I scattered minced dill across the whole plate.

I don't often think I'm a genius, but in this case...

Just incredible.  The salmon is strong enough to rise to the top, flavor-wise, but the ham cream is not simply a supporting player.  It supports, yes, but more than that, it enhances... not in exactly the same way prosciutto does, but in a way that hits many of the same notes while adding a few of its own.

Porky, smoked, rich.  And then the dill.  Wow.  If you like the flavor of dill, the fresh exclamation point it brings is pretty stunning:  herbal, lemony, a little shocking.  And if the richness of the ham cream worries you, you may relax... The dill cuts that without destroying it.

This is one fine dish.  I will make this many, many times in the future.

I hope you will too.