Are you a recipe filer, tearing them out with every intention of trying them soon? I came across a doozy today for salmon with lentils and pink horseradish cream by Patricia Wells in the New York Times Magazine…from 1986. Ironic thing is the topic was three-star restaurants in France being handed down to the new generation eager to put their stamp on the signature dishes responsible for putting the places on the map in the first place. Very much a mid-'80s moment. So here goes, for my first time, PW's just-off-the-press updated classic, a mere quarter century later. Not to worry, the French prove yet again that quality endures.
"Hostellerie du Cerf's Salmon with Lentils, Bacon and Horseradish Cream" was squirreled away because adding bacon and creme fraiche to salmon seemed too good to pass up. l took a few liberties: bringing red peppers into the picture, lemon juice and vinegar to add some zing to the lentils (in place of the indicated Riesling;) and beet horseradish gives a bit of sweetness and a nice shot of color. Since I couldn't get my hands on chervil, I topped it with a sprinkling of sage. The acid and herb balance the richness of the other ingredients, even making it seem almost virtuous.
SALMON WITH LENTILS AND PINK HORSERADISH CREAM
Hostellerie du Cerf with Patrcia Wells
1 c. dried green lentils
2 T. butter
1/2 red bell pepper cut into small dice
1 carrot cut into small dice
1 small onion finely minced
1 celery stalk cut into small dice
1 leak, cleaned well, sliced in small thin strips
1 bay leaf
1/4 t. dried thyme
a few springs of parsley
3 c. chicken stock
1/2 t. salt
grind of black pepper
1 T. red wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup creme fraiche
3 T. pink horseradish
4 oz. pancetta, diced
4 thick cut samon fillets
finely chopped fresh sage for garnish
Prepare the lentils. Melt the butter and saute the red pepper, carrot, onion, celery, and leak on low until soft, about four minutes. Add lentils, s&p, thyme, bay leaf, parsley and stock, bring to a low boil. Cover and simmer until tender but not mushy, about 40 minutes. Pick out the parsley and bay leaf, stir in the lemon juice and vinegar, taste and add more s&p if needed. Keep warm.
Saute the diced pancetta into crisp lardons, drain on paper towels.
Prepare the horseradish cream. Blend the creme fraiche with the horseradish and over medium heat bring to a low simmer. Turn down the heat, keep the sauce warm.
Broil the salmon fillets til just done, still pink in the center.
To assemble: bring the lentils and pink cream sauce back up to a nice hot serving temperature. Make a small mound of lentils in the center of each plate, the broiled salmon across. Spoon the cream sauce around the lentil pile. Shower with the lardons and sprinkle with chopped sage.
Not too long ago the New York Times said offering "bon appetit" is considered gauche in the highest circles of French society. Really though, does this mean we should call out out "dig in!"? I think we all know the correct answer.