"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Panko and Herb Crusted Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce

We have a Meyer Lemon tree in our backyard that produces juicy lemons year round. I love finding new ways to use the lemons. Today, I made a dish using some of the lemons that is surely going to be one of my favorite dishes. The meal was inspired by two recipes from two of my favorite Food Network chefs: Ina Garten (“Barefoot Contessa”) [http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/panko-crusted-salmon-recipe/index.html] and Emeril Lagasse [http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/lemon-butter-sauce-recipe/index.html]
The main dish consists of perfectly cut Salmon fillets (from Berkeley Bowl), that I crusted with Dijon Mustard, Panko breadcrumbs (Japanese style breadcrumbs), fresh lemon zest, and fresh Italian parsley and oregano. I modified the recipe slightly. First, I seasoned the salmon with salt and pepper before I spread the mustard on the fillets. Second, I added a ¼ teaspoon of honey to the mustard. I think the touch of sweetness from the honey combined with the tanginess of the mustard and lemon gives the dish a nice contrast.  Finally, I added some freshly chopped oregano (about ¼ teaspoon) to the parsley. I think you can add tarragon too, if you have some fresh ones. You don't have to add this, but I like the earthiness of the oregano. The result is a piece of salmon fillet that has a beautiful crust on the flesh side, is soft and buttery on the inside, with a perfectly brown and crispy skin on the outside. [NOTE: If you don't have a cast iron skillet, use a non-stick pan.]

I drizzled the fillets with a decadent and silky Lemon Butter Sauce, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse. This sauce is so delicious that it’s sinful. The sauce is smooth from the heavy whipping cream and butter.  It’s tangy and mildly acidic from the lemon. The garlic and shallots give it a nice fragrant aroma.  The hardest part is to resist the urge to just sip it by the spoonful before it hits the dinner table. I only made half of the sauce that the recipe calls for. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would store well (it wouldn’t go bad if you have leftovers, it just wouldn’t be the same texture).

For side dishes, I served some simply made Orzo (rice) pasta (seasoned with salt and pepper, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and Parmesan cheese).  I also served some butternut squash (roasted in a 400-degree oven with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper). The squash is a great pairing with the salmon because, first of all, I love the color contrast. But, I also find the mildly sweet flavor of the squash is a great compliment to the acidity of the crust and lemon sauce.  The creamy texture of the squash (when roasted) goes really well with the salmon.

Every delicious dish (at least in my book) calls for a perfectly enjoyable wine. Red or white? It doesn’t matter. It’s whatever your palate desires.  My husband had a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. For me, I had a glass of Chardonnay by Markham. I chose the Chardonnay because I think it pairs really well with the combined flavors of the dish (the lemon, the butter, the cream, and fresh herbs).  The Markham Chardonnay is a great white wine that is enjoyable with or without food. But, I particularly enjoy it with salmon (whether grilled or roasted) and creamy dishes. It has amazing aromas of toasted pecans and sweet caramel apples. On the palate, you can taste a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon, which gives it a soft and nutty flavor. But, you also taste some freshness that is reminiscent of sweet tropical fruits like pineapple and mango. It’s a perfectly balanced Chardonnay that has the perfect amount of acidity and sweetness, which makes it a very versatile white wine. My friend Rene introduced me to this wine, and it's become one of my go-to Chardonnays. http://shop.markhamvineyards.com/SHOP.AMS?LEVEL=BOT&PART=MVCH1175#.Uj_WrsV62So 
This weekend came and went in a flash. But, I am grateful to have been able to enjoy it with my family.  I hope you all enjoyed your weekend with your families.

Until next time,



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