The Real Meal.

Anyone else in dire need of a truly wholesome meal? Both my hands are up with outstretched arms. See this white flag? Yup, I finally surrender. The gig is up, sugar, we were in it for the long haul, but it’s over and done. Finito. I’m abjuring the tempting evils of my beloved dulcet treats. Okay, fine, I was being a tad melodramatic. I’m not officially nor indefinitely forgoing sugary substances, but most definitely for the time being (as in, the next few days or so). Especially since the past several days have been admittedly anything but sweet – from multiple canker sores and an excruciatingly sore throat to fever outbreaks and unbearable body aches. I know, I realize nothing about this description of my sickly physical state sounds the least bit appetizing so I’ll leave it at that and spare you the gritty details. Although I must say, summoning whatever dwindling energy I have left to write in this *eh hem*, ravishing and oh-so-vital blog can certainly work up an appetite. Wouldn’t you agree? Ya hungry yet?

Actually, my energy is slowly but surely reviving as my body is resiliently healing, with the indispensable aid of pain killers, antibiotics, and duh, quality food. Interestingly enough, this complete meal ensemble came together accidentally, as do most noteworthy kitchen  masterpieces. I initially came across a brussels sprout and shallot recipe from Bon Appétit that instantly had-to-be-made due to an ineludible cosmic force of attraction. Fortunately and unfortunately, this force steered me to a dish I wasn’t immediately attracted to. The unfortunate bit being that unlike the hundreds (well, 199 to be exact) that raved on and on…and on about how delicious, perfect, and oh-mah-gawd like fabulous this dish was, I found it a little…well, disappointing. It reminded me of sauerkraut (not that I dislike it) or this one Rachael Ray recipe I tried out for sweet and sour red cabbage that I miserably ended up discarding (what a waste!). As open-minded (or, I suppose ‘open-tummied’) and un-picky as I am, I guess I have what you might call an aversion to this relatively unfamiliar quasi-bittersweet flavor combination. Nevertheless, the fortunate part far outweighed whatever the heck it is I just carped on about for the past few lines. Honestly! Did I not mention that this brussels sprout recipe is a blue ribbon one (only the best of the best at epicurious!)? Obviously, if anything, this indicates it’s me there’s something wrong with.  

Right, so maybe not the most mouthwatering image to justify my reasons of fortunately being compelled to make this dish, but allow me. The shallots and brussels sprouts separately caramelizing and cooking in butter smelled heavenly. While the whole apple cider vinegar thing threw me off a little, everything came together in a warm, savory and comforting hash. But, alas, something was missing.

And then came the “Eureka!” I needed salmon instantly. It was like a match-made in culinary heaven. The quick pan-seared salmon was  simple yielding a moist, tender, and flaky fillet that rested beautifully upon a bed of rich and buttery vegetables.  A meal that I now prescribe as the uncomplicated cure for nourishing any exhausted body.

Pan-Seared Salmon over Brussels Sprout Hash with Caramelized Shallots

Adapted loosely from Bon Appétit (November 2007)

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds salmon (divided into four 6oz fillets)

salt and pepper, to taste

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
1/2 pound shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for salmon
1 cup water
Preparation:

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.

Add vinegar and sugar. Stir until brown and glazed, about 3 minutes.

Halve brussels sprouts lengthwise. Cut lengthwise into thin (1/8-inch) slices. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sprouts; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown at edges, 7 minutes. Add 1 cup water and 3 tablespoons butter. Sauté until most of water evaporates and sprouts are tender but still bright green, 3 minutes. Add shallots; season with salt and pepper. Arrange on plates and set aside.

Heat the clean skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Cook the salmon, skin-side down for 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan and carefully lifting the salmon with a spatula to prevent sticking to the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook until the salmon is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes more. The skin should be crisp and the flesh medium rare.

Place salmon fillets over arranged brussels sprout hash and serve immediately.

* I imagine this being well-paired with chicken breast as well. Or, as is with a nice glass of white wine.

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