Former cook of the week.
Favorite celebrity chef: Jacques Pepin
Grilled Citrus Seasoned Salmon with Pumpkin Seed Mole and Sweet Corn Salsa
- 1 generous cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 large white onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick (reserve other half for salsa)
- 2 jalapenos
- 6 sprigs fresh cilantro
- 2 large (3 small) Romaine lettuce leaves
- 3 1/2 cup chicken stock, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper
- 2 1/2-inch thick slices white onion
- 2 jalapenos
- 2 ears sweet corn, husked
- 1 tablspoon olive oil
- 4 salmon fillets (6-8 ounces each), see note
- 4 tablespoons Trade East Citrus Grill Seasoning
- Olive oil
For the mole: Toast pumpkin seeds in dry heavy skillet over medium heat until first seed pops, then continue toasting for about 5 more minutes, stirring often, until seeds are lightly browned. Pour in flat pan to cool. Set aside 2 tablespoons of seeds for garnish.
Put remainder of cooled pumpkin seeds, 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and remaining mole ingredients except olive oil in blender and process to a smooth paste.
Heat olive oil in a heavy 4- to 6-quart saucepan. Pour in mole and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining 2 cups chicken stock and cook over medium heat 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour all ingredients back into rinsed blender and process until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
For the salsa: Set up grill to medium high heat. Grill whole ears of corn, jalapenos and two thick slices of white onion until all vegetables are slightly charred and corn gets some nice brown caramel spots on it. Set aside to cool.
Using a wide bowl to catch everything, slice the kernels off the cobs with a sharp knife and scrape remaining pulp into the bowl. Cut off stems off the jalapenos and seed and dice; add to bowl. Chop onions; add to bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
For the salmon: Heat grill to medium high heat. Season each salmon filet with 1 tablespoon citrus seasoning mix. Let rest for 10 minutes before grilling. Lightly drizzle olive oil on fish. Grill fish, skinless side side down first, 3-5 minutes, then flip fish and cook to desired doneness, about 7-10 minutes.
To assemble: Ladle about 3/4 cup mole into rimmed plate or wide, shallow bowl. Lay salmon on top of mole. Top each filet with 3 to 4 tablespoons salsa. Garnish plate with one sprig of cilantro and a few reserved pumpkin seeds.
Cook’s note: Either skin on or skinless filets can easily be used in this recipe. I prefer leaving the skin on in order to control the final cooking of the fish without being concerned about the fish sticking to the grill. The skin easily slips away from the fish before plating.
Contestant's Recipe from the First Round
Polenta "Lasagna" With Brussels Sprouts and Black Swan Barbecue Sauce
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups Black Swan Barbecue Sauce (divided)
- 1 lb. Brussels sprouts halved
- 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 lb. ground beef
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 pkg. pre-made polenta rolls (in plastic package)
Halve Brussels sprouts lengthwise, Saute, leaving them cut side down, in a non-stick skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, until they caramelize to a rich, nutty brown, Add one-half cup of water to skillet, cover and cook over low for approximately 10 minutes, Do not overcook. You want to retain some texture In the sprouts, Drain and transfer sprouts to food processor or chop by hand to a medium-to-rough dice.
Wipe skillet clean with paper towel, return to medium heat and saute ground beef in remaining one tablespoon of oil to brown. Drain excess fat. Reduce heat to low and add 1 cup of Black Swan Barbecue sauce to pan and stir with meat.
Add sprouts to same pan to blend flavors and salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.
Slice polenta length wise in 1/4" thick slices to create "lasagna noodles"*. In 8" by 8" oven-safe glass pan put one layer of polenta "noodles' overlapping slightly. Top with 1 1/2 cups of meat/sprout mixture followed by 1-cup mozzarella. Repeat polenta step and meat/sprout step. Add generous ½ cup Black Swan Barbecue Sauce over meat/sprout mixture and top with 1 cup mozzarella.
Cook in 400-degree oven for 20 minutes until nicely browned and bubbling. Allow to rest tented loosely with foil for fifteen minutes. Serve with additional Black Swan Barbecue Sauce on the side.
* Though this can be done with a sharp knife, I find the easiest way to accomplish this is with a wire-type cheese cutter with roller. It allows you to cut thin. even slices to create the "noodle".