Thursday, September 10, 2009

Salmon in a Lemon Creme Sauce

Have you ever tried to make a cream sauce using sour cream or heavy cream? They can easily curdle if cooked at a high temperature or boiled. Creme Fraiche is a French-style cultured cream that can stand up to heat and will not separate when combined with wine or lemon to create a fool-proof, flawless creamy sauce. Also, it can be whipped with Splenda and vanilla to make a divine, low carb dessert topping. You can find it in the specialty cheese or dairy section of many large supermarkets or at Whole Foods. This product is so popular in England that reduced fat versions are available. Until there is a higher demand for this gourmet item here in North America, our only choice is the full fat version. So, let's create a demand!

Most recipes you'll find that use creme fraiche as the base for their sauce tend to use the whole 8 ounce tub, which is an extremely high 56 grams of saturated fat and 880 calories! In this recipe, I have combined it with stock which cuts the bad numbers by 75% while still maintaining a delicious, creamy consistency. Don't be too concerned about the total number of fat grams in this recipe because most of it is heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids from the salmon. This elegant main dish is so impressive, your guests will marvel at your culinary skill. So, just don't tell them how quick and easy it is to prepare! Although I have used salmon, other firm fish can be substituted, such as swordfish, mahi mahi or tuna. In addition, this sauce is equally delicious over chicken.

Salmon in a Lemon Creme Sauce
(Makes 2 servings)

2 center-cut salmon fillets (5 oz. each, no skin)
½ tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil (for high temp cooking, not olive oil)
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
¼ teaspoon dill weed
¼ cup creme fraiche
¼ cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
Minced parsley or chives for garnish

1. In a small bowl, mix together the creme fraiche, zest, thyme and dill weed: set aside.

2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium to high heat (I use a cast-iron skillet). Season salmon fillets with salt & pepper and rub the oil on each side. When skillet is very hot, place the oiled salmon in the pan and do not disturb for at least 2 minutes until a brown crust has formed. Turn salmon and sear other side for at least two minutes. Turn again and complete cooking to desired doneness. (If you like your salmon on the rare side, the 2 minutes per side should be fine. I like mine cooked through to flaky and no longer pink in center, which takes another 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook, or fish will be dry.) Remove to serving plate and set aside.

3. Reduce heat to medium and add shallot to pan and cook until soft. Add stock, lemon juice and stir to deglaze any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add creme fraiche mixture and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and, if necessary, reduce until sauce is creamy and slightly thickened. Taste to adjust seasonings and spoon evenly over seared salmon. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.

Nutritional Information per serving: 372.5 calories, 3.1 g carbohydrate, 17.8 g total fat, 9.9 g saturated fat, 0.1 g fiber, 35.25 protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

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