Kitchen Bitch: prosciutto-wrapped salmon

 

This is a guest post from Bree's personal cook Dave, with a dispatch from the front line in the war on hunger. 

salmon.jpeg

When Bree and I first starting seeing each other, I noticed a large pile of cookbooks in the corner of her room and thought "Great! She obviously loves to cook and eat."

I was half right. She actually loves to entertain and eat, so most of the time I cook.

Quite often when we're deciding what to serve for a dinner party, we have three things to deal with:

  1. A mix of meat-eaters and non-meat pescetarians, and occasionally the gluten-free.
  2. Scaling the meal up or down depending on how many people we're feeding.
  3. Getting a good R.O.I. (return on investment). In other words, the wow factor of a meal divided by time and effort required to make it.

This dish, an old Jamie Oliver recipe, is a stone-cold killer on all three points. It's easy to make individual portions (red) meat free while keeping the pork in for meatheads, it's easily scalable, and more delicious per minute of effort than just about anything I know. I dusted it off today to try cooking it sous vide style, and damned if it doesn't look impressive too.

Per person, you need: one salmon fillet, about 70 grams of puy lentils, and two thin slices of prosciutto. Got a pescetarian coming?  Cool: two less slices of prosciutto to buy. Whether you're feeding two people or twelve, these are the only essentials you need to remember to scale the dish. How easy is that?

Prep 15 mins ∙ Cook 35 mins ∙ Makes 2 servings ∙ Difficulty About as hard as tying your shoelaces

Ingredients

  • 140g puy lentils
  • 2 x salmon fillets
  • 4 slices of prosciutto
  • Fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon
  • chopped bunch of mixed herbs (flat-leaf parsley, basil, mint, are all good)
  • 1 handful of baby spinach, chopped
  • 100ml natural yoghurt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 220C. Skin and pin bone salmon (i.e. pull little bones out with pliers or tweezers).

Put the lentils into a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender - start checking them after 20 mins, they'll take 20-25mins to get soft. If you've never cooked lentils before, like any pulse they should be soft and a pleasure to eat without being mushy.

Bash some thyme with a little salt and pepper in a mortar, pour in some olive oil, & massage the flavoured oil into salmon. How much? Just enough to coat it. Save a little to drizzle over the prosciutto.

Lay two slightly overlapping prosciutto slices on a board. Drop salmon in the middle and wrap the prosciutto around it. Drizzle with leftover thyme oil over the top and repeat for as many fillets as you have. They'll take about 10 minutes in the oven. The salmon will flake easily when done. The prosciutto should be golden and crisp.

When the lentils are cooked, drain away most of the water from the saucepan, and while they're nice and hot, season lentils with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Stir the herbs and spinach into the lentils and cover the saucepan so the residual heat wilts the herbs and spinach. This will only take a couple of minutes, if that. Portion lentils onto plates, place salmon on top and finish with a drizzle of lightly seasoned yoghurt and olive oil. Seasoning the yoghurt with a little salt and pepper before drizzling will make it slightly savoury and kind of like a creamy, delicious sauce. Now just wait for the oohs and aahs.

Want to take it to the next level? This recipe is even better cooked sous vide style, because it won't dry the thin end of the fillet the way that cooking it in an oven inevitably will. Package the fillets in a ziplock bag with thyme oil and heat in a water bath at 50c. A fillet that's up to 3cm thick at its widest point will take about 35mins. Once it's cooked, wrap salmon as before and sear prosciutto quickly in a screaming hot pan.