Did you ever taste something so good that you ate it with everything? Something that tasted so delectable that you imagined all the ways that you would eat it next time? A food so perfect that you couldn't imagine life without it? A concoction so delicious you would try to get some of it through security at the airport if you knew it wasn't available once you arrived at your destination?
We experienced that on Saturday night. With my friend still in town and spending her last night with us, I wanted to make a sending-off dinner. She had brought a bottle of Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (CA), which was full of black currant, black cherry, chocolate and the vanilla finish that comes with barrel-aging in oak. My friend prefers red wines and I wanted to make a dinner that would play to the wine.
I had a lovely fillet of wild sockeye salmon, some fresh broccoli, fresh spinach and a packet of Lundberg Wild Blend, which is a rice mixture of long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice, whole grain Wehani rice, and whole grain black Japonica rice. It's nutty, chewy, wonderfully wholesome. It's also wonderfully expensive, but my rationale is that nothing is too expensive when I'm cooking for people I love. The rice blend was cooked with browned butter, garlic and shallots, the broccoli was roasted with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and the spinach was simply sauteed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and drizzled with a little cream at the end for flourish. I roasted the salmon simply with Murray River Apricot Salt, a beautiful, pale peach-colored salt that is delicate and mildly briny, and lots of cracked black pepper.
So what's the big deal, you say? She's gotten us all worked up into a lather about a meal full of pedestrian and predictable omega 3's, overpriced whole grains, and dark green vegetables full of vitamins A and C??? So???
So, it was the sauce. As soon as my friend suggested we pair her red wine with fish, I thought "Salmon Fillet with Sauce Choron." I adore Sauce Choron, which is basically a ramped-up, piquant bearnaise sauce. I have been known to lick my plate after eating something with Sauce Choron. I want to put Sauce Choron on everything. That night at the dinner table, we did put Sauce Choron on everything. And in no time, my friend began listing all the things she would want to eat with Sauce Choron in the future. She liberally dressed her salmon with it, then her broccoli, then another helping of broccoli, and then put another spoonful of sauce on her plate after all the food was gone, and ate that too. My husband did much the same thing, and I couldn't stop with the superlatives because it was just so darn good. I think you will react much the same too. Here's the recipe. Make lots. You'll need it for eggs, pork, chicken, shrimp, vegetable, toast, pasta, potatoes...and the occasional piece of shoe leather.
If you go by the book (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I, that is), or by other classic recipes, this sauce should be strained of the shallots and tarragon and should also be very smooth. I prefer a more rustic version, which you can always put in the blender if you want a smoother sauce after it cools a bit. The recipe I settled on was Emeril Lagasse's, a variation of the one found in MAFC. Except, as you may know because it's Emeril, there's a lot more butter. BAM!
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. dry white wine
10 peppercorns, crushed
2 Tbs. finely chopped shallots
1 Tbs. finely chopped tarragon
1 Tbs. tomato paste
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, white wine, peppercorns, shallots, tarragon and tomato paste.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce liquid to 2 Tbs.
3. Lower the heat and add the egg yolks, whisking over low heat until frothy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
4. In a slow, steady stream, add the melted butter and whisk until the sauce thickens.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce if desired, or cool and put into the blender to incorporate the flavors, or serve as is. Makes about 1 cup.