There’s something pretty special about being served a warm wrapped bundle of goodness that’s been crafted especially for you and this particular classic-yet-comfy dish is a shining example. Salmon en Croute, literally translated is, ‘salmon in pastry, baked in the oven’, but the French version sounds much more romantic and the combination of the delicate crispy pastry, tender salmon and silky sauce makes this a winning flavour and texture combination for a seriously delicious Valentine’s Day meal. What’s even better, it’s fairly simple to make and the salmon bundles can be prepped ahead of time—a good thing because Valentine’s falls on Thursday this year.
The key is to buy the puff pastry ahead of time and let it defrost in the fridge overnight. Buy the kind that are in sheets. There will be two sheets, rolled and wrapped individually in a box. You will only need one sheet. Keep the other in the freezer. The best brand to buy is President’s Choice (available at No Frills in Picton). It’s the only store bought brand that has real butter in it.
This recipe highlights a couple of my favourite local ingredients – goat cheese and maple syrup. Pop down to Fifth Town Artisan Cheese and pick up their “Plain Jane” soft chevre (I like using the plain one to build my own flavors), and Maple Syrup, available throughout the County. The darker the syrup, the better, as it provides a deeper maple flavor. And the sweetness rounds out the tang of the lemon zest and goat cheese.
Whether it’s your first Valentines with that someone special or the twentieth (like me), this is a restaurant worthy dish, that will impress.
‘Salmon en Croute’
Ingredients (Serves 2, of course <3 )
- 2 tablespoons chevre
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped + 1 tablespoon for garnish
- 2 salmon fillets, 150 grams each, skinless and boneless
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter + ¼ cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 green onions, white part only, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon white wine
- ¼ cup heavy cream (35%)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- pinch of black pepper
In a small bowl, mix together the chevre, maple syrup and chives. On plate, sprinkle the salt all over the salmon pieces. Turn each piece on its side and curl each one into a small circle. Sprinkle the tops with the lemon zest. Divide the chevre mixture into 2 and spread a spoonful on top of each fillet fish circle.
Remove one sheet of cold puff pastry from the fridge, unroll and place on the counter. With a rolling pin, roll the sheet out to 12” by 12” and cut in 4 equal squares. Brush a little egg wash around the edges of the squares. Place each salmon bundle into the middle of two individual squares. Grab the remaining free square and place one over each of the salmon squares and fold and crimp around the sides to create a snug circle up against the salmon. Brush a little egg wash on the tops and make a few decorative deep indents with your knife on top.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill for at least 15 minutes or up to 8 hours in the fridge. Note: If you are leaving it in the fridge for a number of hours, loosely cover with plastic wrap. In the meantime, heat your oven to 425F. When ready, bake the salmon bundles for around 20 minutes till golden brown on top.
While the salmon is cooking, begin the sauce. In a medium saucepan, over medium low heat, melt the 1 teaspoon of butter and sauté the onions for 2 minutes until soft. Add in the white wine and reduce for about 1 minute. Add the cream and reduce the heat.
Your salmon should be done at this point. Take it out of the oven and let it rest on top of the stove while you finish the sauce. Take the cold butter from the fridge and start adding in a couple of cubes at a time and whisk constantly at each stage till all the cubes have melted. Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. If you like more zing, add a bit of lemon juice.
Place a salmon bundle in the middle of each warmed dinner plate and with a large spoon, very carefully, pour the sauce around each bundle. Sprinkle with the remaining chives.
Note: If you are adventurous, substitute the chives with tarragon. It goes wonderfully with seafood or fish.