Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gettin' goopy with Giada: Mustard Salmon with Cannellini Bean Ragu

My latest issue of "Food & Wine" arrived this week, and it's a dandy. Big news -- Giada's opening a restaurant in Vegas. You know Giada, right? I mean, aren't you on first-name basis with her like me?

You know. Giada de Laurentis of Food Network's "Giada at Home" and "Everyday Italian"? The woman with the waistline of a wasp, the complexion of an angel -- who cooks. without. an. apron? With her, um, decolletage showing? A LOT of decolletage. At least by the standards of this kitchen.

I keep wondering how the woman deals with hot bacon grease.
 Yes. THAT Giada!

I got over Giada's decolletage pretty quickly, but I am still confounded how she cooks without an apron without ultimately looking like an extra serving of that day's Blue Plate Special. (Unless, thanks to the miracles of video editing, we miss the two dozen trips to the dry cleaners. But I kinda doubt it.)

Let's just say, under the same circumstances, you could stuff me in an HazMat suit, turn me loose in a kitchen and I would still end up with sauce stains on my shirt and sleeves. And that's with me not even making a sauce.


Giada's joint restaurant, cleverly named G-I-A-D-A, is in a boutique hotel, The Cromwell, which is part of the Caesar's Palace complex. So now you know. (Does it not crack you up just a bit -- a hotel within a hotel within a hotel? Vegas -- YOU ROCK.)

She shared a few of her menu items in "Food & Wine," and Mustard Salmon with Cannellini Bean Ragu caught my eye: Total prep time -- 50 minutes.

Let's DO this!

Giada De Laurentis' Mustard Salmon with Cannellini Bean Ragu, courtesy of the May 2014 issue of "Food and Wine"

Goddamnit. The recipe calls for fresh chopped thyme. Twice.

Come out, come out -- wherever you are.
BISSK Note #1: Escarole and skinless salmon fillets. Bermtopia is not some hick, backwater cow town -- it's actually a mining/lumber town -- but I was nervous about tracking down escarole. But there it was  -- all two heads of it -- at the very, very far, most remote end of the produce section. Obviously, Bermtopia isn't a big on escarole. Yet.

I already knew fresh skinless salmon fillets was a lost cause. This wasn't my first fresh-skinless-salmon- fillet rodeo.

My fishmonger is the meat (operative word MEAT) counter at Ye Olde Neighborhood Grocery Store. I once asked them for a skinless salmon fillet and they accommodated. The finished product resembled lox. Without the love.

We DO have a most excellent true seafood shop here in town -- Williams Seafood. Problem is, purchasing fish there usually requires taking out a second mortgage on your house. Just saying. Fortunately Williams was closed on Sunday when I was shopping so our mortgage lives to fight another day.

As a result, I did what most self-respecting cooks do when faced with finding an elusive ingredient.

Trader Joe's.

TJ's did not disappoint. Skinless salmon fillets were in the frozen food section. Frozen not my first choice -- and they did look at little gnarly -- but I'm happy to report, once thawed, they did resemble salmon.

BISSK Note #2: Prep time. As noted in my inaugural post, this time of year, I have the need for speed. (Note: We are SO over pine needles. I am now on to clearing garden beds and feeding roses.)

Giada allows 50 minutes to pull this party together. I cheated and prepped most of the ragu Sunday night (31 minutes -- damn thyme) so all I would have to do is the prosciutto, escarole and mustard sauce Monday (20 minutes - damn thyme).

It was close. The salmon took about 7 minutes so, in all, if you prepped this all at once like a normal person, it's closer to an hour from pan to table.

BISSK Note #3: Taste test. I'm glad I tasted a little dab of the mustard sauce. It was very metallic-y. Let's blame the thyme, shall we?

A small dollop of honey -- and a titch more salt -- helped.

BISSK Wrap-up: Meh. In the end, it turned out to be a very strange mix of textures and flavors. Beans and salmon, just slightly discomfitting. The prosciutto was like that odd person at a high school reunion who no one could place -- or find in the yearbook. And I quickly learned that I'm not a big fan of pairing double doses of mustard with salmon.

I might try the ragu again as a side dish, but crisp the prosciutto and use it as a topping. Maybe.

BISSK Rating: On a scale of 1 (Get This Out of My Mouth, Please) to 5 (Let's Make It Again Tomorrow Night), Giada's Mustard Salmon with Cannellini Bean Ragu is awarded 2 heads of escarole out of 5. Perhaps because that's all they had the grocery store.

And why? Because I said so.

No comments:

Post a Comment