|Jacques Pépin Celebrates!: Episode
#206: Independence Day Special
It's a special one-hour tribute to two great cultures and two great cuisines, as Jacques and Claudine create a French-American "fusion" celebration of Independence Day and Bastille Day. A whole POACHED SALMON WITH A LIGHT, CREAMY MOUSSELINE SAUCE is the perfect make -- ahead first course for a midsummer lunch like this one -- an easy, elegant way to feed a large group. It's followed by charming little crocks filled with RILLETTES OF RABBIT -- the classic French party spread that's perfect with country bread and a crisp white wine. For the main course: a whole SHOULDER OF VEAL, cooked slowly on the grill and served with lemon-herb butter is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser that's easy to serve because the guests carve it themselves. And Jacques' CREAMY GRILLED POTATO AND CORN PACKAGES are just right for the occasion: the perfect blend of haute cuisine and hobo cooking. For dessert, there's an all-American RED BERRIES-SOAKED CAKE served with a silky custard sauce and a very French CHOCOLATE GOURMAND -- a decadent chocolate mousse you can serve right out of the bowl, making it a great choice for an informal party. This special summertime show is a light-hearted toast to America, France, and the freedom to enjoy the best of both.
SALMON WITH MOUSSELINE SAUCE
Yield: 12 to 14 servings
Stock for salmon
3 quarts water
2 teaspoons salt
2 medium carrots (about 6 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups sliced celery, preferably the green leafy part
2 cups sliced green of leek (from the remains of the leeks in the leeks and salmon caviar recipe, below)
4 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 very fresh salmon (about 6 pounds), gutted, with the head on (about 24 inches long and 2 1/2 inches at the thickest point)
Leeks and salmon caviar
14 to 16 leeks of medium to large size, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 ounces salmon roe caviar (about 1 slightly heaping teaspoon per person)
8 large egg yolks
1 pound unsalted butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
About 12 lettuce leaves and 1 bunch parsley for decoration
1. Stock for salmon: Put all the stock ingredients in a large kettle. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Set the pan aside off the heat to cool, uncovered, for at least 1 hour.
2. Pour the cooled stock (including solids) from the kettle into the bottom of a fish poacher, and arrange the salmon in its wire rack on top. Fill the fish poacher with additional cold water, so the fish is completely submerged. If the fish poacher is not long enough (mine is 20 inches long), cut off the head of the salmon and poach it alongside the body (for reassembly before serving, or serve the salmon without the head). Drape a kitchen towel over the fish to keep it submerged during cooking, and bring the stock to just below the boil, 180 to 190 degrees F. (If the stock boils, the fish could twist and break.) Poach a 6-pound salmon at that temperature for 16 to 18 minutes, adding 5 extra minutes for each additional pound. Set the poacher aside off the heat, and keep the salmon in the hot stock for at least 30 minutes before serving. (If serving the salmon cold, let it remain in the stock until completely cool.)
3. Meanwhile, prepare the leeks: Split the trimmed leeks lengthwise into fourths, stopping just before you reach the root end of each so they remain attached at that end. Wash under cold water, and tie the leeks into two bundles, seven to eight per bundle. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, add the salt, and drop the leeks into the water. Cover, bring the water back to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, and boil gently, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks are tender when pierced with the point of a knife. Drain (reserving the cooking liquid for stock, soup, or sauces, if desired), and squeeze out excess moisture by pressing on the leeks with a spoon. Untie the leeks, then spread them out on a plate, cool them to lukewarm, and split each one in half lengthwise. In a small bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper, and coat the leeks with the dressing.
4. For the mousseline sauce: Meanwhile, using the egg yolks, butter, and lemon juice, make a hollandaise sauce and set it aside. In a bowl, whip the cream until firm, then cover, and refrigerate.
5. At serving time, lift the salmon out of the hot broth, and slide it onto a serving platter. (If desired, strain and freeze the broth for use in soups or sauces.) Peel off and discard the skin on top of the salmon. Then, using a knife, extract the back fins, which will slide off the cooked fish when pushed. Scrape off and discard the dark flesh, which is mostly fat, from the top center of the fillet.
6. Arrange lettuce and parsley around the salmon, and replace the head if it has been removed. Decorate the salmon with parsley, working quickly, so the salmon will still be tepid or at least room temperature when served.
7. At serving time, arrange a leek on each plate, forming it into a round, hollow "nest" for the salmon. To carve the salmon, run a thin, sharp-bladed knife down the middle line of the fish, cutting down to the central bone and separating the top fillet in half. Then cut the long strips of flesh crosswise into chunks 3 to 4 inches long and, using a fork or spoon to help lift out the cut portions, arrange them in the leek "nests." When the top fillet has been served, lift off the central bone gently, and discard it. Scrape off any skin or fatty tissue from the bottom fillet, then cut it into portions and continue arranging on plates. Sprinkle the salmon eggs around the leeks. Transfer the warm hollandaise to a sauceboat, and spoon the whipped cream on top. Mix the cream lightly with the hollandaise as you spoon it out onto the salmon pieces. Serve immediately.