Salmon with Lentils
- 1 ⁄2 pound French green lentils (lentilles du Puy)
- 1 ⁄4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for salmon
- 2 cups chopped yellow onions
- 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 ⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 1 ⁄2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
- 1 1 ⁄2 cups chopped carrots (3 carrots)
- 1 1 ⁄2 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, recipe follows, or good canned broth
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
- 4 (8-ounce) center-cut salmon fillets, skin removed
- Homemade Chicken Stock:
- 3 (5-pound) chickens
- 3 large onions, unpeeled and quartered
- 6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
- 4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
- 4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in 1/2, optional
- 20 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 15 sprigs fresh thyme
- 20 sprigs fresh dill
- 1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
Place the lentils in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 15 minutes, then drain.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saute pan, add the onions, leeks, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the drained lentils, celery, carrots, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add the vinegar and season, to taste.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
For the salmon, heat a dry oven-proof saute pan over high heat for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, rub both sides of the salmon fillets with olive oil and season the tops very liberally with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, place the salmon fillets seasoning-sides down in the pan and cook over medium heat without moving them for 2 minutes, until very browned. Turn the fillets and place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the salmon is cooked rare. Spoon a mound of lentils on each plate and place a salmon fillet on top. Serve hot.Homemade Chicken Stock:
Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, salt, and peppercorns in a 16 to 20-quart stockpot with 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Skim the surface, as needed. Simmer uncovered for 4 hours. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander, discarding the chicken and vegetables, and chill. Discard the hardened fat, and then pack the broth in quart containers.
Yield: 6 quarts