Notes from the kitchen | Salmon with boiled potatoes and a chard and fava bean stew

Tonight for dinner I’m looking into my freezer. We are nearing the holidays and it’s time to clean house. I see a dozen chicken sausages and have lentils in mind, but in a crate near the fridge some new potatoes have caught my eye. Immediately my thoughts wander towards the frozen salmon, and I imagine those potatoes boiled until soft and tossed with loads of butter and a handful of torn basil. Suddenly I am raiding the fridge — a bouquet of chard; the fava beans which I received as substitution for a kilo of peas last weekend, accepted, and, predictably, haven’t yet known to use. A quick chard and fava stew.

Prep time 30 min —
Take the salmon out of the freezer.
Peel the potatoes, cut into similar sized pieces, and place in a large bowl of cold water until ready to boil.
Trim off the ends and coarsely chop the chard. Wash and spin dry.
Pod the fava beans, then blanch them in an inch of lightly salted boiling water for about 1 minutes. Drain and immediately cover with cold water. It is now easy to remove the  outer skin. Poke a small incision into the side and squeeze out the bean.

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Cooking time 35 minutes —
To cook the potatoes, place them in a pot, submerged with cold salted water (as salty as seawater), and bring to a boil. Let them boil for about 20 to 25 minutes until an inserted knife encounters no resistance at the center. Drain the water, throw a large pat of butter over the potatoes, and immediately close the lid over the pot. Prepare the basil leaves to be added just before serving.

Once the potatoes are cooked and steaming in their pot, start cooking the rest.

In a cast-iron skillet, heat a generous drizzle of olive oil, throw in the chard, season with salt and the squeezed juice of one lemon. Toss the chard a few times as it ‘melts’ (it will reduce drammatically!) so the leaves underneath don’t burn. Once the chard is cooked (this takes just a few minutes!), add the peeled fava beans. They need only be warmed through with the residual heat from the skillet. Remove the chard and favas and place in a bowl, covered to stay warm.

Turn the heat up under the skillet, add another generous drizzle of olive oil, and once the pan is very hot, place the salmon fillets skin side down. You will be able to see the salmon cooking from the bottom up: after 3 to 5 minutes, once the heat has reached through to about one third, flip the fillets over, leave for 30 seconds and turn off the heat. The salmon will continue to cook just enough while the rest of the food is plated. It should be rare in the middle.

A very decent weeknight family meal, which we then ate in front of the tv watching England beat Columbia in an historic penalty shootout.

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