Recipe Match for California Chardonnay

Crispy Salmon with Melted Leeks & Beurre Blanc

Russell Klein of Meritage in St. Paul, Minn.


For the leeks:

  • 3 to 4 pounds (about 3 large) leeks
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • Salt and white pepper

For the beurre blanc:

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon juice

For the salmon:

  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets, 6 ounces each
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or your favorite neutral cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (reserved in separate halves)
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot (reserved in separate halves)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme (reserved in separate halves)
  • Salt and white pepper


1. Trim the leeks of their dark green outer leaves; these can be used for stocks or discarded. Halve leeks lengthwise, then slice 1/8-inch thick. Place leeks in a bowl of cold water and agitate, letting any dirt sink to the bottom. Repeat if needed. Drain and lightly pat dry. (It’s OK if some moisture remains.)

2. Using kitchen twine, tie the thyme, parsley sprigs and bay leaf into a bouquet garni. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and season with salt and a bit of pepper. Add the bouquet garni. Stir the leeks to coat in butter, turn heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very tender, about 45 minutes. Add the chopped thyme and salt to taste. The leeks can be made in advance and reheated.

3. Place the wine and shallot in a small saucepot. Boil until the wine is reduced to 1 to 2 tablespoons. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, let sit for 1 minute, and whisk in 1 cube butter. Return the pot to stovetop over low heat. Add 1 cube butter at a time, whisking constantly to form a smooth emulsion. Do not allow the sauce to boil. Once an emulsion has formed, you can add the butter a few cubes at a time, continuing to whisk constantly. When all the butter is incorporated, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. You can strain the shallots out or leave them in for texture. Set aside in a warm but not hot place, covered.

4. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Pat the skin of the salmon fillets dry. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Place an oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dust the skin side of 2 fillets with the flour. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to the hot pan and immediately add the 2 floured fillets, skin-side down. Lower heat to medium and cook for about 4 minutes, until the skin begins to brown. Transfer skillet to the oven and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the flesh begins to turn opaque. Return the skillet to the stove and add half the butter, shallot and thyme. When the butter has begun to melt, tip the pan and use a spoon to baste the fish with the cooking liquid for about 30 seconds. Flip the salmon and “kiss” the flesh side to the pan for about 10 seconds, then transfer to a warm plate and cover loosely. Carefully wipe out the skillet and repeat this step with the remaining 2 fillets.

6. Place a generous 1/2 cup of melted leeks in the center of each plate. Place the salmon on the leeks and pour beurre blanc around the fish. Serves 4.

Recipe tested by Wine Spectator’s Hilary Sims