I am someone who loves to learn new things. I am an avid reader and consider myself fairly current on world events. We are constantly looking for new outdoor family adventures here in Hawaii; and of course I am always cooking new things! Lately, I have put myself up to the challenge of checking off a list of food techniques, menu items, ingredients and kitchen tools that I am not familiar with with. I was texting a friend about it a few weeks ago. She asked me for the list, I sent it to her. One of the first things that popped up on the text screen was "How have you never made risotto before?!?!" Good point Gerianna. Now clearly, just look at her name, she is Italian. So risotto was probably a staple for her. But totally valid, how have I NOT made risotto before? Challenge posed and challenge accepted. Another first was poaching fish. Miraculously, I had not done that either. I was actually a little wary of this. Although I understand that poaching something helps trap moisture and infuse flavors, I like I nice sear on my meat. So why poach it? Um, so I don't say this often, just ask my husband, but... I was wrong. That was some of the best salmon I think I have cooked. I chose to leave the skin on and sear it at the end to crisp it, but hot damn it was good. This is a very rich dish with a lot of flavors and will lead to a happy mouth and a full tummy.
Below I am breaking down the salmon and the risotto. I also topped the salmon with a compound butter. I already had some in my freezer for some delicious but poorly photographed lobster we had the night before. The dish could stand alone with out it. But I am also a huge fan of compound butters. I am including a hyperlink from a compound butter post I did a while back. There are also greens pictured. I didn't really do a recipe for this aspect of the dish since the stars were the salmon and the risotto. But it was basically spinach and arugula cooked with butter, salt and garlic; very simple. :)
For the Truffle Oil and Parmesan Risotto:
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup roasted garlic cloves
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp truffle/olive oil mix (not pure truffle oil, sold as a blend)
1 1/3 cups Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable, etc...)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup parmesan
1. In a pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil and set aside.
2. In a large Dutch oven or skillet, melt the butter, add the truffle/olive oil and cook the chopped shallots and garlic to the pan. It is important to use something that has that heavy, dense feel like a skillet or Dutch oven so that it heats the rice evenly and consistently. Cook the shallots and garlic till fragrant and translucent.
3. Add your rice to the pan. Saute until the oils have been absorbed by the rice. The rice will also become slightly translucent.
4. Add your dry white wine (or cooking wine will do) to the pan and continue stirring the rice, over medium heat until the wine has lost some of its alcohol smell and has been absorbed into the rice.
5. Take your hot chicken broth/stock and add it into the rice pan 1/2 cup at a time. Stir gently. Continue to add the chicken broth into your rice 1/2 cup at a time until most of the liquid is absorbed. This should be about 20 minutes.
6. Grate some parmesan and gently stir it in as well.
7. You may finish your risotto with a pat of butter or some quality extra virgin olive oil. Some may even elect for a little heavy shipping cream. Try to serve your risotto as fresh and hot as possible. So when you are stirring, be prepping your ingredients for the butter poached salmon. This will take 15-20 minutes.
For the Butter Poached Salmon:
4 quality salmon fillets (center cut, this is the thick part)
2-4 cups seafood or vegetable broth (I will explain which you need below)
1/2 cup dry white wine (cooking wine will do)
1/2 cup butter
5-6 cloves of garlic
4-5 sprigs of dill
2-3 bay leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
1. In a wide pot, or deep pan add all of the above listed ingredients, except for the salmon; starting with only 2 cups of the broth. You are looking for a pan that is wide enough for the 4 salmon fillets. Also, you are looking for your liquid to cover them entirely. So if the 2 cups of broth and 1/2 cup of white wine covers your fillets you may use that amount, but if you need more to submerge the salmon, then please do so. I believe I used around 3.
2. Salt and pepper your salmon to taste and set it aside.
3. Peel and coarsely chop your shallot and garlic cloves, add them to the broth in the pot.
4. Slice the lemon and add it along with the herbs, butter and white wine. Everything should be in there except the salmon and the olive oil. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
5. Gently score your salmon skin if you have chosen to keep it on. This will keep the salmon from curling when in the poaching liquid. I kept my skin on and quickly seared it after it was poached to achieve that beautiful crispy skin. This creeped my amateur husband out, so he peeled my hard work right off.
6. Reduce the heat and add your salmon to the pan, skin side down. Cover and allow the salmon to cook for 2-3 minutes. Very gently flip the salmon and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. If your liquid covers the salmon and you're worried about breaking it while flipping it, this is not that big of a deal, you can cook it for the entire time on one side.
7. Remove the pan from heat and allow the fish to sit an additional 2-3 minutes, then remove it entirely from the poaching liquid. Keep in mind if you pick a thin cut of salmon, you should reduce your cooking time. I also like my salmon medium, a little bit of pink in the middle. Feel free to cook it longer and ruin the salmon if you chose. Just kidding! :)
8. If you wish to sear the salmon, get a pan that will fit all 4 fillets, turn your burner to a high heat, add the olive oil and allow it to heat for a minute or two until it is very hot. Lay your salmon, skin side down and cook for 2 minutes or until the skin is crispy.
9. Plate it over the risotto and top with a lemon herb compound butter if you chose to add that element as well.