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Chef-of-the-Month Recipe with Callaway’s Michael Henry

August 25th, 2010

Chef Michael Henry, Executive Chef of Meritage Restaurant at Callaway Vineyards and Winery, has kindly offered to share this delicious Basil and Chardonnay Cured Salmon recipe for our readers. Chef Henry’s goal for Meritage Restaurant is to create diverse, seasonal menus that accentuate Callaway’s long history of fine Temecula wine. By using local,sustainable, and organic ingredients, Chef Henry produces fresh tapas, salads and entreés with a Mediterranean flair.

Popular menu items  include:

  • Grilled Wild Shrimp Kebob with Tempura Portobello Mushroom
  • Basil Fried Rice and Mint and Wasabi Aioli
  • Grilled Hangar Steak with Roasted Garlic Gorgonzola Butter, Fries and Watercress.

The cuisine is based on the “small plate” concept of big flavor and variety, with menu selections being paired with the best of what Callaway Winery offers. Take a look and try out this scrumptious recipe to get a small taste of the big flavors that you could experience at Meritage Restaurant!

Basil and Chardonnay Cured Salmon

1 side (or piece) of filleted, skin on salmon, no scales or pin bones
Kosher salt
Cracked Pepper
Coriander Seeds
Cane Sugar
2008 Callaway Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay
Fresh Basil Leaves

Basically, curing salmon, or anything for that matter, derived as a food preservation method
started by necessity before refrigeration. We are going to use a modern approach to a very old food
tradition. You want to use salmon that is either wild( seasonal) or properly farm raised (available
year round). The extra money for a better quality fish is well worth it.

1) To cure to the salmon, procure a tray that the fish can fit in. Take the salmon filet, skin side up,
and place in the tray. Pour a bit of Chardonnay onto the fish. Let sit in the refrigerator for about 2
hours. This is only to impart a bit of acidity to the fish.

2) In the meantime, ground the pepper and coriander, reserve a bit of both, then mix the rest with
the salt and sugar. Roughly for every cup of salt you will use a tablespoon of sugar. Add lots of fresh
basil leaves to the salt mix. The salt mix will cure the salmon by drawing out the liquid.

3) Alright, remove the salmon filet from the wine, and pat dry. Season the filet with the reserved
coriander and pepper. Again place the salmon filet in a tray and coat very generously with the salt
mix. Totally packed in with salt from top to bottom. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the
salt packed fish. Place in the refrigerator.

4) Basically at this point you don’t need to do anything else. The salt will draw the juice from the
salmon and become “cooked”. The basil and aromatics will infuse in the salmon. As the fish cures
you will notice liquid forming in the tray, carefully discard the liquid with a spoon. Repack the salt
onto the fish as needed also.

5) Curing time for a whole side of fish can take up to 4 or 5 days. For a small filet it can take about
2 days. After you feel comfortable that the fish is cured, it will be firm to the touch, remove the
salt, rinse with cold water and pat dry. The fish will be very salty the first day, then the saltiness
will fade the next. Slice the fish very thin when serving. Eat on pizza, with eggs, salads, on
sandwiches. It is a very versatile preparation, healthy, flavorful and eats well with a glass of wine.

Meritage at Callaway is open daily for lunch from 11am-4pm and open Friday and Saturday for dinner from 5pm-9pm.

To make a reservation for this unique dining experience, please visit the Meritage Restaurant at Callaway’s webpage to submit your reservation request. A member of Meritage at Callaway will confirm your reservation shortly by phone and/or email.

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