Saturday, November 21, 2009

Salmon and Leek Pot Pie


I never realized how awesome dill was until I tried the Vietnamese dish cha ca. The fresh version in particular adds a unique, wonderful flavor to dishes such as these pot pies. I served them alongside sauteed buttery peas with mint for The Gastronomer's Christmas meal #1.

I realize that this blog is already at risk of becoming one big America's Test Kitchen advertisement, but I must point out that, in addition to the instructions reprinted below, the Family Cookbook contains a section called Puff Pastry 101 with tips on the optimal defrosting method and pictures of the proper pastry cutting technique, a primer on removing pin bones from salmon, and instructions for buying and washing leeks. Every recipe also contains details about which steps can be made done of time. Seriously, if you're only going to buy one cookbook, I recommend this one.

Recipe by The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

For Topping
  • Flour for the counter
  • 1 9.5-by-9 inch sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
For Filling
  • 2 pounds salmon fillets, skin removed
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 (8-oz) bottles clam juice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill (do not substitute dried)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • lemon wedges (for serving)
1. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Dust the counter lightly with flour and unfold the sheet of puff pastry. You can use this recipe to make one large casserole in a 9x13 inch pan, or 6-8 personal pot pies in small ramekins. If making a large casserole, cut the puff pastry into 12 rectangles; if making individual pot pies, cut the pastry sections to fit your ramekins. Brush the pastry lightly with egg, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the rectangles are puffed and lightly browned, but not completely cooked, about 8 minutes. This pre-baking will keep the pastry from getting soggy when cooked on the pot pies.

2. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Remove any pin bones from the salmon and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, then spread it in the large baking dish or distribute it among the small ramekins.

3. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the flour and coat the vegetables. Gradually whisk in the clam juice and milk until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick, about 1 minute.

4. Off the heat, stir in the peas, dill, lemon juice, nutmeg, and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture over the salmon in the baking dish or ramekins. Use a spoon to redistribute the salmon evenly.

5. Place one pre-baked puff-pastry rectangle onto each ramekin, or arrange them attractively over the casserole pan. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the salmon is fully cooked, 13 to 15 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving with the lemon wedges.

Yield: 6-8 servings
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

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