Posts tagged ‘cast iron’

April 9, 2012

Dry Rubbed Seared Salmon

It’s officially springtime, and with Easter passing I’m beginning to go through my lighter dishes to go with the change of seasons.  I get giddy thinking about fresh grilled corn on the cob, summer salads full of fresh veggies, pears, apples and toasted nuts, and most of all the selection of fresh fish in the local market.  One of my all time favorites is salmon, however, one badly cooked salmon can turn me off for months, so I have to choose wisely when I dine out.  The dry, chalky taste of overcooked salmon is one of the most devastating things you can be met with at the dinner table.  Similar to a burnt cookie, overcooked pasta, or a hockey puck steak, overcooked salmon is a major offense in my book.  But when it’s done well, you’ll want to have it every day of the week.  The beauty of salmon is that it can pick up a variety of flavors, teriyaki, garlic, white wine and butter, and its meaty texture lends itself to a variety of cooking methods.  I don’t recommend cooking Dover sole on the BBQ, but a salmon can stand up to this summer time classic.

The delicate crispy, golden crust that forms on the outside is a perfect contrast to the juicy, meaty flesh.  It’s a symbol of summer and health, and gets you on the track to looking stunning in your new summer swimsuit.

Perfect pan-seared salmon demands on a very hot pan. Use a heavy cast-iron skillet, which heats evenly. Warm the pan before you add the oil – either extra light virgin olive oil or vegetable oil; this trick allows the pan to get it really hot without burning the oil. A preheated pan also requires less oil.  Once you master this method you’ll be able to whip up a gourmet dinner in less than 10 minutes – golden brown outside and tender inside.   I like to serve salmon with a fresh mixed green salad with a tangy vinaigrette, a refreshing contrast to the rich, yet delicate fish.

Ingredients

  • 2 6 oz. salmon fillets (skin on) one per person
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, coarse grind
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. extra light olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. In a small bowl, mix garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, seal, pepper, lemon pepper, and ginger.
  2. Brush the salmon with olive oil on all sides.
  3. Take the spice mixture and generously coat both sides of the salmon.
  4. Set a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When a drop of water skitters on the surface, add the oil.
  5. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom evenly and heat until the oil is almost smoking, about 30 seconds.
  6. Place the salmon skin side up in the cast iron skillet.
  7. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes.
  8. Turn the salmon and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes on the other side.
  9. Then lower heat to medium, place lid over skillet to trap heat and finish cooking an additional 2-3 minutes.
  10. With a minute to go, add a tbsp. of butter and let is melt in the pan, spoon it over the top of the salmon right before you turn off the heat.
  11. To check if the salmon in ready, stick a thin knife in the thickest part and gently look at the color inside.  It should be juicy and barely turning opaque.  If you over cook the fish it will be extremely dry and very white in color.
  12. When salmon is cooked enough to eat safely it will lose its translucency and become opaque. It should also flake easily when tested with a fork.
  13. Serve with a fresh salad and enjoy your very healthy yet tasty dinner!

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September 16, 2011

Cumin Crusted Pork Chop with Peach Salsa

I love a well-cooked pork chop (not well done, but one that’s cooked by someone who knows what they’re doing), but a dried out one can ruin the meal, and put me off pork chops for months.  This is one of those recipes that will make you love them, and hopefully encourage you to get out of your usual rut of ground beef and chicken (I know I get in those).

This Latin-inspired combination of flavors is great for the summer.  It’s light but fulfilling. The smoky, crispy cumin crust on the pork couples amazingly with the heat and sweetness of the salsa.  I paired this with some wild rice and broccoli and there you have it, one healthy, all around balanced meal!

I picked up some fresh peaches, but the nectarines and plumes looked delicious and could easily be substituted in the below recipe.

Ingredients                                                                                                                                                                                                        Salsa

  • 4 peaches ripe but firm, peeled, pitted and diced (you can leave the skin on if it’s tender)
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Pork Chops

  • 3 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 pork chops, bone in or out, it’s your preference
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (and a little more for the pan if needed)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper

Method

  • For the salsa, in medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Toss lightly and leave on the side for later.
  • Preheat cast iron skillet to medium high, you will know when it’s ready when you slash a drop of water on the pan and it sizzles away (I used a cast iron pan and it have the chops a great sear, you can also cook these on the grill)
  • Rub chops with oil, sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Place pork chops in hot pan with a little more olive oil.  These should sizzle away!
  • Leave for 6-8 minutes depending on the thickness and turn
  • Cook an additional 6-8 minutes.  The temperate of pork should reach about 140 when it’s done
  • Remove from skillet and top with peach salsa.
  • Consume!

I’m from California so I’m still getting used to the spicy chilies.  To tablespoons of chipotle was plenty for me, but you can add a little more if you’re a Texas native.

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