I needed a little ‘zing.’ I needed a little ‘easy.’ I got what I asked for with this quick orzo and salmon success story!Main Course / September 23, 2016
I had been having a particularly bad day. Not catastrophic, just bleh. REALLY bleh. And when it came to dinner time I just wandered around my kitchen, opening the pantry and the fridge and the cupboards and just uttering more, “bleh…” As I moved around boxes from the back of the shelves looking for inspiration, I ran across the dreaded Onion Soup Mix box. Yes, I do have some of that. Some of you may need a moment to compose yourself after gasping. But remember, I don’t always use ingredients the way they may have been intended. I often take one thing and make it another, or use only the flavor packet. Quite frankly I figure there are no rules when it comes to cooking something unique. Those words, “Three easy steps!” on the side of any prepackaged food box mean NOTHING to me.
But I did have an idea for that onion soup mix. Remember, I was having a bad day. I needed a little zing. And I needed to use the frozen Alaskan salmon in my freezer. Hmmm. Maybe I could accomplish all this in one pan and whip up something that would be the poster child for comfort food?
Yeah, I think I can.
If there is anything that is a dead giveaway of flavor combinations for my style of cooking, it is that I love salty and sweet together. I just think the tongue deserves it. One brings out the other. And whatever is in between just gets better.
The results of this blending were super spectacular. Just the right texture. Just the right flavors. Just the right dinner for turning a night of bleh into zing!!!!
First secret is building layers of flavor. Some butter and onion and a little garlic are shoe-ins. And of course a good stock and other complimentary seasonings are essential. I decided to begin by toasting the orzo a little in the oil and butter, much like the first steps you take when making good ‘ol RiceARoni. It helped create the right amount of chew for the orzo, and the gradients of color from the browned butter were lovely.
Once you nest the salmon into the boiling liquid, setting the lid on askew is vital. You want it cooked in the liquid but you don’t want it rubbery. And salmon cooks in an instant. So don’t dally and let a little steam off while poaching (actually it is a little braising and poaching…).
You may not have all these ingredients and I usually like to share recipes using items you can easily get, but I encourage you to use a somewhat sophisticated preserve flavor if you do not have brandied cherries. I used a bottle from Harry & David but there are several purveyors that offer the same kinds of flavors and will yield excellent results.