Fun? Impressive? Easy? Salmon Wellington is Here for You
This pastry-wrapped show-stopper is ‘the’ thing to cook when it’s dark all weekend
For many of us 9 to 6-ers, recipes tend to fall into two categories: convenient, weeknight regulars you can cook with your eyes shut or labor-of-loves you file away for that magical place full of possibility—the weekend. My new column is all about the latter—the dishes we cook with time on our hands, where the process itself brings others into the kitchen—and hopefully to the dinner table, too!
I wouldn’t go near a Wellington recipe on a weekday unless it was off a menu (incidentally I’m fresh from an excellent venison Wellington experience and so ready to encase things in puff pastry).
This is not new for me. If it’s been covered in pastry, I’ve probably eaten it. So, it only seems appropriate that pastry is where we begin: This weekend, we’re cooking salmon Wellington!
If you’re new to Wellington recipes—they are the Russian nesting dolls of the culinary world: the traditional is a beef filet wrapped in chicken liver and mushroom pate, wrapped again in Parma ham before being wrapped, again, tightly in puff pastry, baked until golden, and sliced into medallions on the finished plate. Nowadays, it can refer to any number of proteins like pork or venison, all the way over to salmon wrapped in sauteed, nutmeg-y spinach and, of course, the pastry de resistance.
A Wellington is often cast as a showy, festive-occasion food, but of these iterations, I’d say salmon Wellington is the easiest—plain easy even—it’s just the steps involved that make it more suited to a leisurely weekend affair. Trust me, you’ll want to invite people over to enjoy slicing into it together.
The salmon Wellington, step by step:
There are basically only four main steps to this salmon Wellington—cooking the spinach mantle, assembling, decorating, and baking (where your oven does all the work for you).
1) Firstly, saute the spinach with shallots, garlic, and nutmeg. It’s important to let it drain in a sieve afterwards and then squeeze most of the liquid out; you don’t want to squeeze so much that you have a dry lump as the moisture in the spinach will help prevent the salmon drying out.
2) Next, lay out your puff pastry. Unless you’re a puff pastry pro (to learn how, see here), store bought is fine—just find the best-quality, butteriest pastry you can as it makes a huge difference than those mixed with vegetable fats. If your pastry comes wrapped in parchment paper, waste not, want not, you can unfurl it onto this and then transfer directly onto your baking sheet. If not, lay out a sheet of your own before rolling the pastry out onto it.
3) Pat the salmon dry and season with salt and pepper. Add half the spinach to the center of the pastry and distribute it so it’s about the size of your piece of salmon, place the salmon on top, then cover with the remaining spinach. Brush around the edges with egg white to help the top layer stick.
Next for the fun part, lay a second piece of pastry over the top and run your fingers around the edges to tuck in your little salmon and spinach baby. Trim away the excess pastry, leaving about a 2.5 cm (1-in.) border. You can now cut a criss-cross diamond pattern into the top and decorate the edge with forked indentations.
4) Pop it in a hot oven at 200°C (400°F) degrees for 5 minutes before removing it, brushing it with egg yolk and leaving to bake for 15 – 20 minutes. This short burst of cooking time is enough for the pastry to become crunchy and golden and to cook the salmon until just done—dry overdone salmon would really ruin the dish, so make sure you set a timer!
Get the recipe:
The sides to serve with your Wellington...
While your salmon is in the oven you can attend to some sides. Some greenage has already been covered inside the dish itself, so our chef Christian serves some really delicious, really easy to prepare oyster mushrooms cooked with butter, shallots, and vermouth as a side for the recipe. In texture and taste they’re a nice contrast to the main event.
If you want to add even more to your spread: I’m a big advocate for pairing carbs with carbs, so roast potatoes on the side are the obvious choice (they can share oven space with the Wellington), or a citrusy, bitter, palate cleansing salad. In that same vein, I really like a tangy, herby dip á la salmon en croute: try creme fraiche with chopped chives, dill, parsley, lemon zest, horseradish, and a little salt and pepper.
Will you Wellington this weekend? Share your results in the comments below!
Published on November 29, 2019