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Milk Street: The New Home Cooking

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A side of salmon, steamed with mirepoix and vermouth, stays tender and flavorful

Oven-Poached Salmon with Thyme, Dill and Vermouth

1½ hours

Holiday parties often call for feeding crowds at inconvenient times, usually wedged between hors d’oeuvres, conversations and opening presents. So we wanted an impressive main course that’s as good at room temperature as it is hot from the oven. A whole side of salmon proved an excellent choice. We found inspiration in an oven-poaching method we learned from French chef Michel Bras. He slow cooks smaller cuts of salmon in a 250ºF oven over a water-filled baking pan. To adapt the technique for a larger side of salmon, we ratcheted up the heat; surrounded the fish with carrots, celery, shallots and a bit of vermouth; and covered it all tightly with foil. This allowed the salmon to steam and be infused with flavor while cooking faster and staying tender. A fillet between 1½ and 1¾ inches thick worked best. We found temperature was a better indicator for doneness than cooking time. To test the salmon’s temperature, carefully peel back the foil just enough to insert an instant thermometer at the thickest end. The best way to perfectly cook this dish was to remove it from the oven a bit before the salmon was fully cooked. The residual heat gently finishes the cooking.

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