New England Poached Salmon with Dill, Caper & Egg Sauce

IMG_1124A little wild salmon for post Valentine’s Day brunch. The lightest and, perhaps healthiest, way to gently coax the flavor from the fish.

This dish, is a slight variation (~we just add dill and capers and punch up the flavor of the sauce) of the Salmon with Egg Sauce that was a favorite of President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams, the first family to entertain in the White House.  Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks’ 1968 The President’s Cookbook, reveals, Mrs. Adams thought the dish “so memorable she decided the ‘American’ quality of it made it perfect as an Independence Day dinner.” It was served with Green Turtle Soup and Apple Pan Dowdy for dessert.”

So, here is Abigail Adam’s original recipe, with a boost of flavor in italics.

New England Poached Salmon with Dill, Caper & Egg Sauce
4-6 lb. center-cut piece salmon
2-3 qts. (to cover) salted water
4 peppercorns
1 bayleaf
2-4 lemon slices

Dill, Caper & Egg Sauce:
1 c. milk (replace with 1 c. white wine)
½ c. fish stock (reserved liquid from poached salmon)
1 c. light cream
2 small onions, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bay leaf
1 whole clove
3 tbsp. butter
3. tbsp. white flour
Kosher salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste  (but with a heavy hand)
2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
1/2 tsp. dill weed
Squeeze of lemon

Garnish:
Parsley
2 barely hard-boiled eggs
2 tbsp. capers

Make sauce: Scald milk (or white wine) with cream, sliced onion, minced garlic. ½ bay leaf, 1 whole clove. Remove film from surface, if it forms. Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in flour over low heat until smooth. Slowly pour in scalded milk mixture until it bubbles.

Poach salmon: Wrap the washed, cleaned piece of salmon in cheesecloth, so it can be removed from broth after cooking. Bring 2-3 ads of salted water to a boil, add peppercorns, bay leaf and lemon slices. Boil 15 min., then reduce to a simmer and add salmon. Turn up heat until broth is just about to boil and simmer slowly until salmon is cooked, about 6-8 min. per pound. Do not over cook, the salmon will flake easily when done. Lift salmon from stock, remove cloth, skin carefully and place on a warmed serving platter.

Finish sauce: Reserve about a cup of the salmon stock to use to thin and flavor sauce as needed. Strain sauce into a saucepan, season with pepper, salt, stock, dill weed, lemon and 2 chopped hard-boiled eggs. Taste as you add lemon squeeze and adjust seasonings.

Garnish salmon by topping it with Sauce, capers and more chopped (almost soft, hard-boiled) eggs, parsley, lemon slices and serve.

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