The bane of the amateur gardener is that everything gets ripe all at once. And eating tons of the same produce, meal after meal, day after day, week after week… one’s tastebuds quickly tire. So freezing, drying, canning, gifting and other forms of creative storage become highly valued.
And if a bunch of apple trees happen to grow on your property, you eventually ask for a cider press when your handy-man Father in-law asks for Christmas ideas. You can see what he came up with in the photo here – looks as if it should be launched! It’s just a happy coincidence that his name is Johnny, one long associated with apples and their seeds.
The first cider from our late-ripening tree was so delicious, I’ve spent some enjoyable hours conjuring up or searching for recipes that feature cider. Like this one, which I came across in Wine Spectator, for a Cider-Poached salmon. It’s been adapted slightly from its original version (as seen in “Maine Classics: More Than 150 Recipes From Down East,” by Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier. Running Press) to make it a bit more Pinot friendly. But it already had a good start, and the bonus of featuring Morgan’s 2009 12-Clones Pinot Noir ($32), a wine I’d recently featured in one of our wine club shipments.
1 gallon apple cider
2 tsp each fresh rosemary and thyme (with extra for garnish)
¼ cup (plus 1/4 tsp) brown sugar or 3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp fennel seed
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
6 Salmon fillets, 4-6 oz. each
1/4 lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 – 2 Generous pinches Cinnamon and Cumin
4-6 Tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1. Heat cider in a fish poacher or (if you haven’t stocked up on Williams Sonoma’s entire storew-wide inventory yet!) a broad-based, saucepan, until liquid is reduced by half its height.
2. Add the rosemary, thyme, brown sugar (or syrup), fennel seed, salt and pepper. Bring to a
full boil and then reduce to just below a simmer – you want steam but no bubbles.
3. Gently place the salmon in the liquid and cook for 6 minutes. Test for doneness (I suggest an instant-read thermometer, but you can pull one out and take a peek at its center.
4. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a sauté pan until melted but not smoking. Add apples and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the aromatic spices (Cinnamon and Cumin) and the additional 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar (not too sweet or it will fight with the wine!)
5. Using a slotted spatula, remove the salmon directly from the poaching liquid to individual serving plates, and garnish with the poached apples and a sprinkling of the fresh chopped herbs.
Serve with steamed broccolini or asparagus and good rolls warmed in the oven.
Wine Pairings – You can’t go wrong with any of the lighter style Pinots from cooler growing regions (Sonoma Coast, Monterey, Anderson Valley, New Zealand, Germany…) – you’ll find many options in our virtual Pinot Aisle – as well as a nice Pinot Gris or even a richer, off-dry Rosé.