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Posts Tagged ‘cayenne’

see the foamy white goodness on the salmon?  that's hot butter

see the foamy white goodness on the salmon? that's hot butter

I think I may have mentioned this already, but salmon isn’t really my favorite fish.  It’s just so salmony.  So it’s funny that we eat it about once a week in our house.  Clarification: I don’t care for it as much when other people fix it, I love it when I prepare it myself.  Is that snooty?

The thing about salmon is that it’s so affordable and a cinch to prepare, extremely good for your body and a very sustainable fish.  All of these things appeal to my sensibilities.  Also, I have found some ways to make salmon taste creamy, not salmony. 

Imagine a plumpy, flaky, juicy little piece of pink fish, covered in a delicious blackened crust – onions, garlic, paprika and cayenne all come together to create a smoky depth of flavor – a little lemon and thyme add brightness and keep things interesting.  Imagine drizzling a little bit of browned butter on the fish – it sizzles on the crust – buttery magic is happening.  Now imagine yourself taking the perfect bite of creamy fish – the crunch of the crust is so toothsome – the soft richness of the salmon is a perfect contrast.  I mean really, imagine this.  You too can be so passionately dramatic about a fish that you’re not even sure you like.  Indeed, that is how spectacular this recipe is.  I’m getting worked up just thinking about it (even with a belly full of the best homemade pizza that has come from my kitchen to date)…    

Furthering the greatness of this dish is the fact that I can throw it on my indoor grill with some asparagus and call it a night.  Jon and I split a large, skinned filet between the two of us but you could get wild and have an entire filet to yourself – just increase the amount of the spice mixture.  Speaking of wild, Sockeye and other non-farmed varieties of salmon are abundantly available right now – there are no excuses to not to have a euphoric salmon experience this week.

blackened salmon with a brown butter drizzle       

  • one large, skinned salmon filet cut in half
  • two tbsp of onion (red, white, yellow – use what you’ve got), finely minced
  • two cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • a heaping tsp of paprika, maybe a little more
  • a heaping tsp of dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper, or more if you like heat
  • 1/4 tsp of smoked pimenton or smoked paprika (if you don’t have this on hand just omit it – it’s just a bonus)
  • a very generous pinch of kosher salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • a very generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, probably a few tbsps
  • half of a lemon
  • a tbsp or so of butter
  1. combine the onion, garlic, cayenne, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and lemon in a small bowl and add enough olive oil to form a nice wet paste (just for fun, take a big whiff of the mix – it will be aromatic and wonderful)
  2. cover one side of each piece of salmon with some of the spice mixture, and place spiced side down onto a well oiled grill pan or skillet on medium heat
  3. add the remaining spice mixture to the exposed side of the salmon
  4. cook the salmon for three to four minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the filet (be gentle when you’re turning the fish over so that the crust stays with the fish)
  5. in the last few minutes of cook time, melt some butter over medium heat, swirling gently until is begins to brown
  6. plate the salmon and drizzle the hot butter immediately over each fillet – serve with another squeeze of lemon and thank God for the privilege of food and taste buds

Do you want more salmon?  How about favorite spring salmon on peas with lemon brodetto or salmon with citrus pesto? Mmmmm….

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sweet and spicy toasty chicken with tender onions

sweet and spicy toasty chicken with tender onions

Remember how I mentioned that the secret to perfectly roasted chicken is the very top rack of the oven at 500 degrees, lots of olive oil and skin-on, bone-in chicken?  If you don’t remember, now you know.  Thank you, Gourmet, for sharing this extraordinary knowledge.  This sweet and spicy and roasty toasty recipe is the first way that I had this magical chicken – so pleasing and delicious. 

It’s a perfect weeknight dinner because it is ridiculously easy to prepare.  It’s also a very economical way to feed quite a few people.  The simple combination of paprika, cayenne and cinnamon ends up tasting surprising and complex – the onions roast to sublime tenderness and sweetness.  I like to roast a few vegetables in a different dish next door to the chicken in the oven.  Sometimes squash and zucchini, sometimes cauliflower; either way I give the veggies a generous dose of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and a little parmesan.  Gourmet recommends green beans with shallots and cashews – also magnificent. Just make sure you put your veggies in for about 25 minutes instead of the 35 that the chicken needs. 

I can never actually follow the rules for anything, and I don’t always have the patience to measure, so I say you get to adjust the amount of spices to your taste.  The recipe below is just a guideline.  I love lots of paprika, lots of cinnamon and a little less cayenne.  I also add a dash of smoked paprika.  You can use a whole, cut up chicken for a full table; I use a couple of skin-on, bone-in breasts for two or three.  Sweet onions or regular – either will be very tasty.

Once again we have an amazing dish that tastes fabulous, cooks all at once in the oven, makes your house smell fantastic and is easy to clean up.  Yes, please.  Stay tuned for future editions of “fabulous roasted chicken” – I’m thinking szechwan peppercorns or chile and lime… adobo spices or something sweet and Moroccan…

delicious paprika and spiced roast chicken with sweet onions

inspired by Gourmet magazine – serves 4 to 6

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into serving pieces (I just use a few breasts)
  • 2 to 3 vidalia onions or yellow spanish onions, quartered
  1. mix the olive oil with the spices, plus about 1 1/2 tsp of kosher salt and a little black pepper in a bowl – the mixture should be a little runny but well incorporated
  2. lay chicken and quartered onions in a large baking dish and generously rub spice and oil mixture all over the chicken, taking care to get plenty under the skin, as well as generously rubbing and tossing the onions in oil and spice mixture (everything should be well seasoned – not dry)
  3. drizzle with oil if necessary, add an extra pinch of salt over the dish, and bake, skin side up for 30-35 minutes on the very top rack of the oven at 500 degrees
  4. serve and sing praises for amazing food that is easy to prepare, warms the soul and fills the belly

Serve with all of the pan juices poured over the chicken and onions for extra flavor.

Be sure and roast with the skin on, even if you don’t plan to eat it.  This will help to keep the chicken moist and flavorful and cannot be omitted. 

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