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Salmon & Escarole Packets with Lemon-Tarragon Butter
Matthew G. Kadey
“This company-worthy salmon is steamed on a bed of escarole and basted in a rich and tangy lemon-butter sauce. Fresh tarragon is delicious or try other herbs, such as thyme or rosemary. Rainbow trout or arctic char are good substitutes for the salmon.”
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chopped escarole, romaine lettuce or spinach
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1-1¼ pounds skinned salmon fillet, preferably wild Pacific (see Note), cut into 4 portions
1Preheat oven to 400°F (or see Grill Variation, below).
2To prepare packets, start with four 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of parchment paper or foil. Fold in half crosswise. With the parchment or foil folded, draw half a heart shape on one side as you would if you were making a Valentine. Use scissors to cut out the heart shape. Open up the heart.
3Combine butter with the juice of 1 lemon in a small pan; melt over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in tarragon and garlic. Reserve 2 tablespoons for the fish. Combine the rest of the sauce in a large bowl with escarole (or lettuce or spinach), scallions, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; toss to coat.
4Place one-fourth of the greens mixture (about 1¼ cups) on one side of each open heart fairly close to the crease and leaving at least a 1-inch border around the edges for folding. Place 1 piece of fish on top of each portion of greens. Season with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Brush the reserved sauce on the fish. Slice the remaining lemon and top the fish with the lemon slices.
5Close the packet to cover the ingredients. Starting at the top, seal the packet by folding the edges together in a series of small, tight folds. Twist the tip of the packet and tuck it underneath to help keep the packet closed. Place the packets on a large rimmed baking sheet (packets may overlap slightly). Bake until the fish is just cooked through and the greens are wilted, about 15 minutes. (Carefully open one package to check for doneness—be cautious of the steam.) Let the packets rest unopened for 5 minutes before serving.
6Grill Variation: Cooking in packets is great for the grill, but it's not safe to put parchment paper over an open flame, so use foil. To prepare packets for grilling, start with eight 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of foil. Layer two sheets for each of four packets (the double layers will help protect the contents from burning). Arrange the ingredients on one half of each double layer. Fold the foil over the ingredients and tightly seal the packets by crimping and folding the edges together. Grill over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the packets to another spot on the grill about halfway through to ensure even cooking.
Equipment: Parchment paper or foil
Ingredient Note: Wild-caught salmon from the Pacific (Alaska and Washington) are more sustainably fished and have a larger, more stable population. For more information, visit Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch (mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp).