Peterson’s Salmon Red Wine Sauce
To bring out the best flavor, the salmon head should be cooked with aromatic vegetables until it falls apart and leaves a brown crust attached to the pan. At this point wine is added and the sauce simmered to extract the flavor and gelatin from the head. The braising liquid is slowly reduced and skimmed of fat before being finished with chopped parsley, which adds a fresh note, and a dash of Cognac, which adds a spot of complexity. Butter is swirled in as a final finish.” ~ James Peterson
Makes 4 main course servings
8 tablespoons butter
1 salmon head, gills removed
1 small carrot, peeled, diced
1 small onion, peeled, chopped
1 bottle full-bodied dry red wine
1 bunch parsley
1 bouquet garni containing 10 sprigs of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, and stems from the bunch of parsley
1 tablespoon Cognac
1 teaspoon wine vinegar or more to taste
salt & pepper
Melt two tablespoons of butter in a heavy-bottomed medium pot. Add the salmon head and the vegetables and stir, every few minutes, over medium to high heat, until the salmon head falls apart, about 20 minutes.
Continue cooking until a crust forms on the bottom and sides of the pot and add the wine.
Tie up the ingredients for the bouquet garni and add to the pot. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes, skimming off any froth or scum that floats to the top. Chop the parsley fine and reserve.
Strain the sauce into a clean saucepan and simmer it gently, skimming all the while, until you have about a half of a cup left.
Add the reserved parsley, Cognac, and vinegar—boil for a second to cook the alcohol off the Cognac.
Swirl in the remaining butter, whisking the whole time, until it emulsifies the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Adjust the vinegar if needed. If the sauce gets too thick, thin it with a teaspoon or two of water. Serve over prepared full flavored fish, such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, or halibut.