The warm poached salmon in red wine sauce from Barton Seaver’s For Cod and Country (Sterling Epicure, May) was delicious, if not the most eye-appealing dish in the world. The fish turned out tender and perfectly cooked and soaked up the light red wine flavor without being overpowered by it. Swirling butter into a reduction for a sauce is always a good idea. I really liked this method, but would want to experiment with a white wine next time if only for appearances sake; the red wine turned the salmon an unattractive purplish gray, which the dark sauce just compounded. As is, not a dish for company.

Warm Poached Salmon in Red Wine Sauce from For Cod & Country by Barton Seaver

Two 10-ounce portions salmon fillet, preferably pink salmon

2 cups light red wine, such as Beaujolais or Dolcetto

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 sprigs fresh thyme


2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

In a sauté pan just large enough to fit the fillets in a single layer, heat the wine with the shallot and thyme over medium heat. Season lightly with salt, keeping in mind that because the wine will be reduced for a sauce later, you shouldn’t add too much salt now. When the wine begins to steam, add the salmon fillets and reduce the heat to medium low. You want to keep the temperature at about 170 degrees (use an instant-read thermometer to check this). Poach until the fish is cooked all the way through, about 12 minutes. Check for doneness by gently flaking apart a small section to see if the color is consistent throughout.

Remove the salmon from the wine and transfer to a plate. Keep it warm in the oven. Increase the heat under the wine to medium and reduce until only about 2 tablespoons of liquid remain. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme. Add the butter and swirl the pan to incorporate it with the wine reduction as it melts. Spoon the sauce over the fillets and serve immediately.