Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Whisk Wednesdays—Saumon au Champagne (Salmon in Champagne Sauce)

Saumon au Champagne (Salmon in Champagne Sauce)This next class is all about poaching. The curriculum called for us to make pot-au-feu (chicken cooked in water), but Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook doesn't have this recipe in it. Another Le Cordon Bleu cookbook does have it (Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook Home Collection), so the Whisk Wednesdays group could opt to make chicken pot-au-feu from this other cookbook or poach salmon in Champagne. I thought the salmon and Champagne sounded tastier.

Poaching in champagne. Although I would have loved to use real Champagne from the Champagne region of France, I couldn't justify the cost so I used an Italian sparkling wine instead. This recipe uses Champagne in both cooking the fish and in the sauce.

Fish Stock
The first step was to make a fish stock. Onions, carrots, and the fish are cooked for a bit before bathing it in Champagne and water. A Bouquet Garni and some salt and pepper add some flavor to the broth. This bubbles away on the stove for awhile, building flavor.

Next, I prepared the salmon by drying it with paper towel and seasoning it with salt and pepper. After buttering a roasting pan and sprinkling the finely chopped shallot in it, I put the salmon in the dish. Then, I added the remaining Champagne and water. Topped with a butter parchment paper, it was ready for its quick oven bath.

In my reading about poaching salmon, I came across this interesting method from Bob Blumer: poaching fish in the dishwasher. I'll have to give this a try sometime.

Finally, I made the sauce. I started with a roux and added the reduced 2 cups of fish stock. This simmered for about 10 minutes before I added the liaison of cream and yolk, slowly so as not to curdle the egg. I seasoned the sauce, and it was ready to go.


Serves 6

Saumon au Champagne (Salmon in Champagne Sauce) mise en place
For the fish stock:
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, sliced thin
1 carrot, sliced thin
1 pound whiting
2 cups Champagne
1 cup water
Bouquet Garni
Salt and pepper

For poaching the salmon:
6 salmon steaks
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped fine
1 cup Champagne
2¾ cups water
Salt and pepper

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2½ tablespoons flour
2 cups fish stock
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper

You can find the recipe for Saumon au Champagne (Salmon in Champagne Sauce) in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home. To see how the rest of the Whisk Wednesdays group fared with their recipe, click here (or check out the sidebar) and then click on each blogger!

Tasting Notes
All in all, this was a very simple dish with only three pots dirty in the sink. Not bad for Le Cordon Bleu. The Champagne is the secret ingredient that adds a depth of flavor, and using the real stuff I bet is even better. This was delicious. Salmon is so much better with sauce, and one bathed in Champagne is decadent.

Next Week (December 10)
• Truite de Mer, Sauce Verte (Whole Poached Salmon Trout with Herbed Mayonnaise)
pages 84-85

My Bucket List
  • Taste a real bottle of Champagne from the Champagne region of France.

  • . . . . . . . . . .

    Running total: $887.49 + $33.10 = $920.59

    Butter used so far: 8 pounds, 19 tablespoons

    . . . . . . . . . .
    ::Whisk Wednesdays::
    We're cooking our way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, we try to find a suitable substitution. Find out more here.
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    Jessica said...

    I too want to drink real Champagne in the appropriate region.

    You dish looks amazing! I'm making the chicken for a dinner party tomorrow night, so my post will be up later this week. However, I finally finished my eggs from last week; had some...trouble...peeling the eggs.

    I'm on the prowl for some good salmon to make this down the road.

    Anonymous said...

    Salmon and Champagne... my wife will love this combination.

    Anonymous said...

    That is a handsome looking fish and it looks even better in its finished form. Beautiful!!

    NKP said...

    It looks great! I used the same Italian sparkling wine as you. And, um, drank the rest myself.
    There are some rewards to being the chef!
    Loved this dish, looking forward to next week.

    Manggy said...

    I've never heard of this dish before. It looks and sounds lovely-- very elegant :)
    I dunno, poaching in the dishwasher sounds a little expensive water-wise... O_o

    Anonymous said...


    Are you sure that ain't cava? :)

    You know, Anthony Bourdain says northern Spain is the new France or something like that.

    Anonymous said...

    Lovely pictures!

    Michelle said...

    WOW.....I'm so jealous! You used a whole salmon and deboned it too!

    Gorgeous dish!


    Anonymous said...

    How did you get by with only 3 pots? One for the stock; one for the reducing of the stock after straining; one for the sauce when the salmon liquid was mixed in with it all that you had to melt the butter and flour in first; and one roasting pan for the salmon. I had two others for the double boiler. How did you get by with just 3???? LOL.

    Your photos are amazing and the post excellent...everyone is going to want to make this just from your writing about it! Great job...the salmon and sauce photo looks amazing...very very nice.

    Stacey Snacks said...

    Hi Shari,
    I downloaded the browswer software as you suggested and now all is fine when I click on Whisk!
    thank goodness!

    Cathy said...

    Absolutely unbelieveable -- your pictures, your finished presentation -- all of it!

    Anonymous said...

    Gorgeous! I actually gasped when I looked at the picture then read the title. Such a luxurious dish.

    Anonymous said...

    Shari, your salmon looks perfectly lovely! Your sauce...magnifique! I'll get to this one...I have the salmon, and a Calif. champagne ready. This looks so decadent!

    taste memory said...

    you are so dedicated. that salmon in champagne looks perfectly executed!

    as ever food styling + photography is lovely ~

    Anonymous said...

    Champagne sauce sounds so inviting! I must try it next time i buy salmon.