Chefs have long paired pauper ingredients with luxurious ingredients to create a new level of refinement and balance. Cabbage and Truffles; Potatoes and Caviar; and Hot Dog Rolls with Lobster Salad.
For the same effect, Jean Georges Vongerichten poaches foie gras in lentils for an alluring juxtaposition of luxury, richness and texture. I happened to have more foie gras in the freezer….
(As a side note, I wanted to let you know that despite what it may seem with the regularity of foie gras posts, I do have a more balanced diet. But since they come in 1 pound lobes, I invariably have a left over chunk to indulge with at a later time).
His recipe called for poaching a full lobe in the lentils. To me this seemed overly decadent and not the best way to lure out the foie gras’ refined flavor. I prefer foie gras when it’s seared to crusty brown. But in a nod to the Jean-Georges, I melted a small piece of foie gras in the lentils to infuse some of the distinct flavor.
Lentils, red wine sauce and salmon on its own is a wonderful flavor pairing. The foie gras adds a new dimension, though this meal would be fabulous without it.
Seared Salmon with Lentils and Red Wine Reduction
1 tbs. plain oil
4 - 6 oz. salmon filets
1 cup pinot noir or other red wine
1/2 lemon juiced
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
1 tbs. butter
1 shallot, small dice
1/2 carrot, small dice
1/4 celery rib, small dice
1/2 leek, small dice
1 sprig thyme
1 cup French green lentils
1 oz. foie gras
2 scallion, cut into rounds
Cook the lentils: Over medium heat sweat shallots, celery, carrots and leeks in 1 tbs. of butter. Add lentils, salt and pepper and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Add the foie gras and simmer for 5 minutes more. When lentils are cooked, stir in scallions.
Cook the salmon: Season salmon with salt and pepper. Let salmon rest, skin side down on a paper towel to make sure skin is dry.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil. Carefully, place salmon, skin side down in the skillet. Do not poke or prod, when the skin is crispy, the salmon will easily come off bottom of pan. Flip over, and continue cooking until desired doneness. Remove salmon from pan, and keep in a warm place while preparing sauce. If you are serving foie gras, you can sear it in the hot, salmon pan at this point
Make the wine sauce: Pour off excess fat from the salmon/foie pan. Return pan to heat, add shallots, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until soft. Add wine, and let it reduce to about 1/4 cup. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil and reduce by half again. Turn the heat off, and whisk in butter, 2 tbs. at a time - for a total of 1 stick of butter (or more depending on your taste). Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and a small squeeze of lemon juice.
Serve lentils with salmon, wilted spinach and seared foie gras. Drizzle sauce around the plate.