Slow roasted salmon ranks high on my list of the best fish I’ve ever eaten. Five years ago, Matt, a private chef in Malibu, awakened my palate to the glories of slow roasted salmon. The salmon had a silken and tender texture with exceptional flavor and color. Armed with the chef’s nominal directions, I tried a number of times to duplicate that salmon. Always okay, never exceptional.
This year, though, I’ve perfected the technique and recipe for exceptional slow roasted salmon. It’s now the equal to that salmon of 5 years ago in texture, taste and hue.
I like to roast the salmon on a bed of tender, garlic sautéed Swiss chard. Then just before serving, top it with dollops of my rich and flavorful Pesto Genovese or Garlic-Scape Pesto. This is slow roasted salmon perfected. Even my husband who doesn’t especially like salmon, went back for thirds.
These thin, “floating” bones aren’t attached to the fish’s backbone or ribs. The best way to find them is by running your finger against the grain along the middle of the thickest part of the salmon. If the bones are present, you’ll feel them protruding at about half-inch intervals.
Using a clean pair of needle nose pliers or kitchen tweezers makes quick work of removing these bones. Working with one bone at a time, grasp the protruding tip with the point of the pliers or tweezers. Pull at a slight angle toward what would be the head of the fish. The fresher the salmon, the tighter the bones are held by the flesh. And the stronger you’ll have to pull to remove them.
Cazuela – Spanish for “cooking pot”
Many years ago, I received a huge and heavy box from a friend downsizing his kitchen. The mysterious box contained his cazuela (kah-SWAY-lah) collection. Four large and medium round cazuelas with handles, this especially beautiful oval one (a great size for the slow roasted salmon), a covered pot-shaped one for soup, as well as two pitchers.
Whether Spanish or Mexican cazuelas, these terra-cotta cooking pots and baking dishes can be cooked over a flame, baked in the oven and served directly on the table. All cazuelas require seasoning before their first use. Seasoning entails
- Completely submerging the cazuela in water for 24 hours of soaking.
- Brushing the entire cazuela with a thin coating of olive oil.
- Baking it in a medium-low oven for 40 minutes.
From then on, frequent use keeps cazuelas well seasoned. When you haven’t used your cazuela for an extended period, repeat the seasoning process before you next cook with it. Hand wash your cazuela with a soft brush or sponge.
Just harvested and tender lacinato (dino) kale works well as a base for the salmon. However, I found that regular kale and even older dino kale are just too tough. And, thus, too much of a contrast for the silken-textured salmon.
As Swiss chard cooks up quite tender, it is the perfect complement.
For exceptionally moist fish, rather than cook individual portions, keep the salmon fillet in one piece. When slow roasted in a cazuela, ceramic or glass baking dish, you can present Slow Roasted Salmon whole, and let your guests serve themselves. Alternatively, roast the salmon on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and transfer it to a serving platter.
Increase the cooking time according to the weight of the salmon fillet.
• Roast a 1 pound fillet for 45 minutes
• Roast a 1 ½ pound fillet for 50 minutes
Makes 2-4 servings Printer-Friendly Recipe
Active Time 25 minutes
Total Time 70 minutes
1 pound center cut salmon fillet, skin on, pin bones removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pesto of choice
1. Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Lightly spray a cazuela, ceramic or glass baking dish or rimmed baking sheet (that will hold the salmon in one layer) with olive oil. Place another baking dish filled half way with hot water on the lowest rack in the oven.
2. Lightly coat the salmon with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Season the salmon with salt and freshly ground pepper. Let the salmon come to room temperature.
3. Prepare the Swiss chard. Remove the stems from the chard. Slice the stems into ¼ inch pieces. Cut the leaves into 1-inch wide strips.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the chard stems and garlic for one minute. Add the chard leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and toss the greens for 1 minute until slightly wilted. Add 1 tablespoon of water. Cover the pan and continue to cook the greens until tender, another 1-2 minutes. Transfer the greens to the lightly oiled baking dish. Spread them out just a little larger than the size of the salmon fillet.
5. Arrange the salmon over the chard.
6. Bake for 45 minutes. The fish is done when it feels firm to the touch, and juices have begun to break through the surface.
7. Serve Slow Roasted Salmon hot from the oven, at room temperature or chilled. Use two forks to separate the salmon into portions.
8. Top with the pesto of your choice and a wedge of lemon.