Monday, June 8, 2015

Fettuccine with Salmon en Sauce Nicoise

     Pasta And Salmon In The Style Of Nice, France! 
     The French Provence region boasts a cuisine that reflects upon sunny warm weather, extensive farm fresh produce and plenty of seafood.  Provence cuisine has a healthy reputation!
     The city of Nice is located in the Provence region.  Nice cuisine offers several classic recipes that will never change, because they stand up to the test of time.  One such recipe is Poulet Nicoise.  The Nicoise Sauce for chicken is made by caramelizing field squash pulp to start the sauce.  This adds a rich deep flavor to the sauce.  Nicoise Sauce not only tastes taste good with chicken, it also tastes great with seafood.

     I made the photo example of today's recipe while working at the Technique Restaurant on the Le Cordon Bleu College Campus in Las Vegas.  I used to sell Poulet Nicoise as a special du jour at a yacht club in Florida in the late 1980's, so I knew the sauce recipe well.
     At the Technique Restaurant, I was in charge of managing the special du jour each day and I usually designed recipes that made use of highly perishable food items that needed to be sold immediately.  Sometimes as a cost cutting measure, I made use of fish scraps that students would usually just set aside or pitch in the trash.
     It is always good to use every scrap of meat from something like a whole salmon, so food costs are reduced.  When portioning salmon filets, there is always some belly scraps and tail scraps.  These salmon scraps can be turned into mousseline or used to make something creative, like an appealing past du jour special.  If there are only a few scraps, then they can be turned into a cost effective employee meal.
     Pasta made with any kind of seafood is a good selling item.  When made with a classic French sauce, like Sauce Nicoise, customers simply cannot resist!

     Sauce Nicoise:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for 2 pasta portions.   
     Sauce Nicoise was originally designed for poultry or game birds.  There is no reason to modify the Sauce Nicoise recipe for fish or seafood.  Chicken Stock is part of the original recipe and sauces made with chicken stock usually taste good with seafood.  Shrimp Stock or Fumet can replace chicken stock in this recipe.
     For a more refined presentation, Sauce Nicoise should be pureed and strained before the final reduction.  For a café style pasta application, the sauce does not need to be pureed or strained.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped zucchini squash pulp.  (Use the seeds and soft core.  Save the firm green part of the zucchini vegetable recipes.)
     Add 1 chopped overripe plum tomato.
     Add 1 teaspoon of tomato paste.
     Sauté and stir occasionally, till the zucchini pulp and tomato is caramelized to a medium brown color.
     Step 2:  Add 3 cups of light chicken stock.
     Add 1/2 of a bay leaf.
     Add 1 sprig of fresh thyme.
     Add 1 small sprig of fresh tarragon.
     Add 1 small sprig of fresh oregano.
     Add 2 fresh large basil leaves.
     Add 6 parsley stems.
     Step 3:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Slowly simmer and reduce till about 1 2/3 cups remain.
     Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Set the fortified stock aside.
     Step 4:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small diced onion.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small diced leek.
     Gently saute and sweat the vegetables, till they become tender.  (Stir often.  Try not to brown the vegetables!)
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
     Add the reserved fortified chicken stock.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.  (The stock is already flavored with herbs, so the sauce only needs to be seasoned!)
     Step 6:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till 2 1/4 cups remain.
     Step 7:  In a separate small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat, combine 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter with an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to make a roux.
     Stir till till the roux is blonde color.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Step 8:  Add just enough of the blonde roux to the sauce, while stirring with a whisk, to thicken the sauce to a very thin sauce consistency that barely coats a spoon.
     Add 1/3 cup of tomato concasse.  (Tomato concasse is peeled, seeded, diced fresh tomato.)
     Add 8 to 10 pitted nicoise olives.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  (The finished volume should be about 2 cups.)
     Step 9:  Add 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Reheat the sauce to order!

     Fettuccine with Salmon a la Sauce Nicoise:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.
     *The salmon and sauce can be prepared while the pasta cooks!
     Step 1:  Select a 5 to 6 ounce salmon filet or 5 ounces of salmon scraps.  (Remove the skin.)
     Cut the salmon into bite size pieces and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Cook 1 portion of fettuccine pasta in boiling water, till it is al dente.
     Step 3:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the salmon pieces.
     Sauté till light golden brown highlights appear and the salmon is more than halfway fully cooked.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup of light chicken stock.
     Add 1 cup of the Nicoise Sauce.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the sauce warm till the pasta is ready.
     Step 5:  When the fettuccine is cooked al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the portion of fettuccine to the sauce in the sauté pan.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 6:  Mound the pasta on a plate and try to expose a few pieces of the salmon and a few nicoise olives, so they can be seen.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of minced Italian Parsley over the pasta.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of thin sliced chives over the pasta.
     Garnish the pasta with a thin sliced triple lemon curl twist.
     Serve with sliced French bread and finely grated Parmigiana Cheese on the side.

     It sure is easy to make a pasta entrée when the sauce is made ahead of time.  That is the French way of doing things in a restaurant kitchen!  
     Pasta should always be cooked to order.  That is the Italian way of doing things in a fine dining restaurant kitchen!

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