Pan seared salmon

My wife Hillery loves Salmon.  There ought to be a section devoted to just salmon on the blog.  She likes it raw, smoked, grilled, you name it, but it turns out her favorite preparation is the simplest – pan seared.  The good news is our kids like it this way too.  The bad news is this doesn’t leave much room for creativity….or does it?  I realized rather than the preparation of the fish itself, I could focus on the rest of the plate.  For a special dinner I made this preparation, salmon served over Swiss chard, with spaetzle, pancetta, morels and asparagus.  This may seem a little complicated, but with some advanced prep (make the spaetzle ahead of time), the dish comes together quickly.

 For the spaetzle

¾ cup flour

Pinch of salt

1 egg

¼ cup milk

Olive oil

 For the salmon

1 salmon fillet (approx. 2 lbs), skin on

2 ounces diced pancetta

4 ounces morel mushrooms

6-8 asparagus spears, slice into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal

2 cups Swiss chard, rinsed and roughly chopped (do not dry)

1 cup spaetzle

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons butter

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

 1.     Make the spaetzle.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Whisk together the egg and milk in a small bowl.

2.    Add the flour and salt to a medium bowl and make a well in the center.  Add the egg/milk mixture and gradually incorporate with a fork.

3.    Place the batter in a colander or spaetzle press.  Using a rubber spatula, push the batter through the colander or press into the water.  Cook for 3 minutes or until the spaetzle floats.  Drain the spaetzle and toss in a medium bowl with a dash of olive oil to prevent sticking.

4.    For the vegetables:  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned.  Reserve to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pan.

5.    Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté until soft and lightly browned.  Reserve.

6.    Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan and add the Swiss chard.  There should be enough liquid from rinsing the chard.  If not, add a splash of water or stock.  Cook until wilted.  Reserve.

7.    De-glaze the pan with the white wine and chicken stock.  Add the asparagus and simmer to reduce.  After 2 minutes, add the butter and stir.  Add the spaetzle, pancetta, mushrooms and chard to the pan, keeping the chard to one side, and stir to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

8.    For the salmon.  Preheat an oven to 375F.  Using your fingers and tweezers, feel the salmon for any pin bones and remove.  Cut into 4 equal portions.  Season with salt and pepper.

9.    Heat a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle with olive oil and heat until almost smoking.

10.  Add the salmon, flesh side down and cook 5 minutes without moving, until the salmon develops a nice crust.  Flip to the skin side, cook one minute, then move the skillet to the oven to finish cooking, about 5 minutes longer.

11.  To serve, place a small mound of Swiss chard in the middle of each plate.  Spoon the spaetzle, pancetta, mushrooms and asparagus around the plate.  Drizzle with juices from the pan.  Top with the salmon and serve.