By Tara O’Brady
1 salmon fillet, about 2 lb., skin on and preferably centre cut
Medium-grain kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled and pressed with the side of a knife but left whole
1 branch fresh rosemary, maybe 6″ long, broken in half
4 leeks, cleaned, trimmed, and with the white and light green parts sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1/4 cup water
2 cups cooked butter beans or 1 (15-oz.) can, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup crème fraîche
Step 1: Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Step 2: Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper, then place on the baking sheet skin side down. Thinly slice half the lemon and arrange around the fish. Bake until the salmon is almost opaque in the centre of its thickest part, 25 to 30 minutes.
Step 3: Meanwhile, heat the olive oil, garlic and rosemary in a large skillet over medium heat. When the rosemary begins to sizzle, remove it but reserve for later. Add the leeks to the pan, along with the water and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the leeks are soft but still brightly green, 5 to 8 minutes. Tip in the beans, and continue to cook for 5 minutes more. Finely grate over a few scrapes of lemon zest, and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir gently. Check for seasoning.
Step 4: Once the salmon is cooked through, remove from the oven and preheat a broiler to high. Plate the beans, then slip a thin spatula between the salmon flesh and skin, lift gently, and let the fish break naturally. Place pieces on top of the beans. After all the flesh has been removed, place the skin under the broiler, flipping once, until brown and sizzling, maybe 90 seconds. Crack the skin into large shards. Sprinkle the salmon and beans with the reserved rosemary sprigs and the crisp skin.* Stir lemon juice and zest into the crème fraîche to taste, and serve alongside.
* Adding the rosemary back to the pan at the end gives a final hit of herbal steam. The twig, and the clove of garlic, can be removed before serving, if desired.
Reprinted with permission from Tara O’Brady’s Seven Spoons (2015 Appetite by Random House).