Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Smoked Salmon and Lemon Risotto

Smoked salmon and lemon risotto

One of the luxuries we treat ourselves to occasionally is smoked salmon. I usually plan this for the Fourth of July. I am from the Midwest where barbeque (and folks, hamburgers and hot dogs on a grill are NOT barbeque) is the traditional thing to do on the Fourth. In New England, I learned that poached salmon with egg sauce is considered the traditional dish. I love poached salmon, but it seems a little too formal and it is not done outdoors on a grill so it misses the point.

My adaptation is to smoke the salmon on a grill, using a light smoke like alder or apple. I am using apple this week. The other thing I am using is a Smokenator insert for my Weber kettle, which turns the kettle into an indirect smoker. This is not a cold smoker and the salmon is not cured or brined before smoking. Salmon filets (I found some wild Alaskan Sockeye) are placed skin side down on a double sheet of foil, salted and then sprayed with cooking spray. Half the usual amount of charcoal briquettes are loaded in the Smokenator to keep temperatures down and plenty of wood is used to provide a heavy smoke.  If using filets the fish is smoked for about 1-2 hours until fish flakes when checked with a fork. Be careful not to overcook. It will be served with a lemon risotto (recipe below) and steamed and buttered snow peas. Strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Lemon Risotto

This is a versatile dish from the Piedmont region of Italy. Serve it as an appetizer or a side with fish, chicken or duck. You can also add peas or asparagus or tiny Maine shrimp and make it a main dish. The egg yolks give it a nice sunny yellow color. The recipe is from Perla Meyers’ excellent cookbook, The Peasant Cookbook: A Return to Simple, Good Food. The book is now out of print but if you can find a good used copy, it is well worth acquiring.

•    3 egg yolks
•    ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
•    1 ½ t0 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
•    5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
•    1 medium onion, finely minced
•    1 ½ cups Italian Arborio rice
•    4-5 cups hot chicken stock
•    Salt and freshly ground white pepper


1.    Combine the egg yolks, and Parmesan cheese and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk until well mixed and set aside.
2.    Heat 3 Tbsp. butter in a heavy, two-quart saucepan. Add onion and cook until softened but not brown. Add rice and cook until well coated with butter and opaque white. Add ½ cup chicken stock and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until all liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until all liquid is absorbed before adding more.
3.    After about 20 minutes, taste the rice. It should be soft but still somewhat chewy. Add remaining stock ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly, until rice is creamy but not runny. Be careful to not drown the rice in too much stock. Season with the salt and pepper.
4.    Remove the pan from the heat. Add the egg mixture and fold it into the rice. Taste the rice, correcting seasoning and adding lemon juice if you like. Stir in remaining butter.
5.    Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese on the side.


  1. "hamburgers and hot dogs on a grill are NOT barbeque"

    Them's be fightin' words!

    I'm pretty sure the "war between the states" was somewhat predicated on misuse of the term "barbecue" :)

    1. You know how many times we eagerly attended a "barbeque" up here just to have the host ask that disappointing question: "hamburger or hot dog"? I'm from Missouri and my wife from Mississippi (near Memphis) and we know what BBQ is.


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