September 15, 2008

Seared Salmon with Spinach and Creamy Peppers

I am continuing my Rick Bayless recipe bonanza (can you call something a bonanza after only one other consecutive occurrence???). I am seriously thinking about making recipes from Mexican Everyday, everyday this week. That would definitely qualify as a Bayless Bonanza. I am not committing to anything yet, but we will see how it goes. I like to surprise myself. Also, I have a butt-load of tortillas that I really can't freeze. I predict that you will be seeing a lot of Mexican food in the near future.
So, without further is another Bayless creation from my favorite cookbook. I think I will serve this dish with either baked (really microwaved) potatoes or wild rice pilaf. I will decide which one it will be, when I start cooking. I have to see what I am in the mood to make, since one is more labor intensive than the other. If my side dish turns out to be anything exciting, I will post a separate recipe. We also have a few leftover green beans, which will make their way to our table tonight, too. This seems promising, and Rick has never disappointed me.

Salmon con Espinacas en Crema Verde

2 fresh poblano chiles
10 ounces cleaned spinach (about 10 cups)
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 to 2 tablespoons masa harina
1 1/2 cups milk, plus a little more if needed
4 4- to 5-ounce (1 to 1G pounds total) skinless salmon fillets
Salt and ground black pepper

1 Roast the poblanos over an open flame or 4 inches below a broiler, turning regularly until blistered and blackened all over, about 5 minutes for an open flame, 10 minutes for the broiler. Place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let cool until handleable.

2 Place the spinach in a microwaveable bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in the top and microwave on high (100%) until completely wilted, usually about 2 minutes. (If your spinach comes in a microwaveable bag, simply microwave it in the bag.) Uncover (or open the bag) and set aside.

3 Turn the oven on to its lowest setting. Heat the oil in a very large (12-inch) skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium. Add the garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the garlic into a blender. Set the skillet aside.

4 Rub the blackened skin off the chiles and pull out the stems and seed pods. Rinse the chiles to remove bits of skin and seeds. Roughly chop and add to the blender, along with the masa harina and milk. Blend until smooth.

5 Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the fish liberally with salt and pepper. Lay the fillets in the hot oil and cook until richly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the fillets, and cook until the fish barely flakes when pressed firmly with a finger or the back of a spoon (you want it slightly underdone), usually a couple of minutes longer for fish that's about 1 inch thick. Using the spatula, transfer the fish to an ovenproof plate and set in the oven.

6 With the skillet still over medium-high, pour in the poblano mixture and whisk until it comes to a boil and thickens, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. If the sauce has thickened past the consistency of a cream soup, whisk in a little more milk. Taste and season with salt, usually a generous H teaspoon. Add the spinach to the sauce and stir until it is warm and well coated with sauce.

7 Divide the creamy spinach among four plates. Top each portion with a piece of seared fish. (Or, if it appeals to you more, spoon the sauce over the fillets.) Serve without delay.

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