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I know that in polite company, you don’t try out new recipes on unsuspecting guests. But since my dinner guests are often close friends, I figure they can handle the challenge of ‘sure hope this turns out okay.’ Plus, as good as roast chicken is, that can’t be the only thing I serve company.
But when I made these lentils with bacon early last week, I knew they would be perfect for our little dinner party come Sunday. Double win – know what to do & know it will be good!
On Monday, I made them without the fennel (per the recipe on Amateur Gourmet) and on Sunday I added it in (per the original Anne Burrell recipe). Sure, if you have one on hand it doesn’t hurt, but it is not worth an extra trip to the store. What makes these lentils shine are the bacon (obviously), the still crunchy veggies (unlike those found in lentil soup) and the perfectly bright and balanced finish of mustard and vinegar.
I thought these lentils matched perfectly with steelhead trout (Monday) and salmon (Sunday) which both received a pan-sear/oven-roast-finish treatment. (They were also great reheated for a little lunch the next day, which is always nice to know.)
Maybe I will get in the habit of trying things out before guests come over … or on second thought, maybe sometimes is a good place to start.
I have tried to write about this salmon since Sunday, and I keep getting stumped. There wasn’t much of a backstory or cute little tale and it wasn’t inspired by anything interesting. Simply enough we wanted fish for dinner and Whole Foods was having a killer sale on amazing looking salmon.
But sometimes that is all you need. Beacuse that is how things really happen.
So for a different take on the lemon/dill/caper version, I did the obvious and looked for a recipe. I was thinking miso-something and a quick google search led me to a Bobby Flay miso-ginger grilled salmon. With a few slight tweaks and an adaptation for stove/oven vs. grill and I figured we’d be set. And I kept the adjustments to a minimum, because as much as I enjoy it, it was my first time cooking with miso, and I didn’t want to botch it.
Now, not to toot my own horn, but this was seriously good. Like restaurant good. And since my forays into fish are few and far between, it really blew my expectations out of the water!
I love leftovers. I can eat soup for days. Just about any meat can make a mean meal on day two. Mac and cheese, yes please. But fish – no thanks. Underwater creatures just don’t hold the same appeal to me when reheated, repurposed or redone.
So when I saw that I had a bit more salmon than I knew we would eat for dinner, I didn’t cook it. Thankfully, I remembered seeing a quick citrus salt cure on wrightfood when I was scoping foodblogsearch.com for info on fish in parchment. And once I popped those packets in the oven, I zested up some lemons and oranges, mixed some sugar and salt and had my first go at home cured salmon.
Knowing that the piece I was using was teeny-tiny (I cut off the thinner side from the salmon that I was using for the papillotes so it would all cook evenly), I wouldn’t feel terrible if it all went awry and I had to toss it.
Do you cook much fish at home? As much as I love it, I really don’t. I think it is because I can’t honestly say that I know we will be eating at home when I am at the store. I can guess which days we will cook, but as you know, things come up – things change. And so while I am fine having chicken and veggies hang out in the fridge, waiting until I get my act together, fish, not so much.
I want to cook it and eat it the same day I buy it. I want it to be fresh, fresh, fresh! And so what happens more often than not, I just don’t buy it. Am I alone here?
But Sunday, I knew we were both going to be home from dinner, and there was some salmon at the market that looked so good, I thought it had just jumped right out of the water and into the fish case. So I jumped on it myself.