I have my standard quick salmon recipe; the one I use when I come home at 6 p.m. and the kids need to eat by 6:30 p.m. The marinade comes in a bottle (I know, gasp!) I spend at least 5 minutes of that cooking time sweating whether I have overcooked the fish. It is easy and it is fairly tasty. Inspiring? Well, no, I would not go that far. But it is fast.

A whole section of the “local” book “store” splits at the seams with cookbooks boasting healthy and delicious 30-minute meals. The authors of these cookbooks are interested in keeping you from the alluring pull—and resulting caloric intake—of eating Popeye’s or McDonald’s. Their dishes are often, well, simple and fine, but not that compelling.

So, we pulled a recipe from our favorite 30-minute chef, Eric Ripert from Le Bernardin in New York City. Yes, that Rachel Ray of the quick power lunch. This dish is subtle, delicate and delicious. And it takes only 30 minutes. So, now what is your excuse for eating take out or grabbing that bottle of Soy Vey?

Serves 4
Total prep & cooking time: 1 hour


½ cup Pinot noir
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon shallots, minced
4 sprigs tarragon
2 leeks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin off
Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper


1 teaspoon sliced tarragon
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon finely minced shallots

Serves 4
Total prep & cooking time: 30-ish minutes


1. In a small sauce pot, combine the red wine, red wine vinegar, black peppercorns, shallots and tarragon. Bring the wine to a boil and reduce to about 6 tablespoons. This will take about 15 minutes. Reserve in pot.

2. Trim the ends of the leeks, remove the tough outer greens and wash thoroughly. Split the leek in half lengthwise and thinly slice the leeks into juliennes; place the leeks in a shallow pot and cover with water and 1 tablespoon of butter. Bring to a simmer, lightly season with salt and pepper and cook slowly until the leeks are very tender, about 10 minutes, adding more water as needed.

3. Finish the red wine butter sauce by whisking in the remaining butter 1 tablespoon at a time until fully emulsified, season to taste with salt and pepper and strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve and keep warm.

4. For the salmon, put about ½ cup of water in a pan (just enough to cover the surface); season with salt and bring to simmer on medium heat. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the salmon in the pan; cook at a bare simmer until the top of the fish is just warm to the touch (about 5-7 minutes).

5. Meanwhile, gently reheat the leeks in the cooking liquid. Spoon the leeks onto each plate, remove the salmon from the pan and drain each fillet on a towel. Place a salmon fillet on top of each bed of leeks. Sprinkle tarragon, black pepper and shallot over each fillet. Spoon sauce around and serve immediately.

Adapted from Eric Ripert’s new cookbook, Avec Eric

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