While parts of Washington are getting all kinds of crazy amounts of snow this week, down here in the Willamette valley it's raining cats and dogs. Areas of my town have flooded; people are evacuating out of their homes, and some of the farms where I buy my produce and eggs are completely submerged. It's times like these where I am actually thankful that I live on a big ass hill. Whether you are holed up in your house because of rain or snow, make this salmon and leek pot pie to chase away your winter blues.
You know who else likes salmon? This fuzzy one:
Salmon and Leek Pot Pie
adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Notes: The original recipe makes 6-8 servings, but since I only had one pound of salmon in the freezer and didn't want to buy more, I halved it. You'll still have to bake a whole sheet of puff pastry regardless, but this way you'll have lots of extra to nibble on. This recipe calls for dill, which if you know me at all, you know that I think dill is pretty much the worst thing ever, so needless to say, I left it out. The cookbook seems to think it's pretty important in this dish though, so if you like it, use it.
For the topping:
Flour for the counter
1 (9 1/2- by 9-inch) sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (heads up, this takes about 40 minutes!)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the filling:
1 pound salmon fillets, skin removed
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large or two small leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 garlic clove, minced
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (Optional. If you do use it, don't sub dried)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch nutmeg (freshly ground if you have it)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Extra lemon wedges for serving
Get all your ingredients prepped while the puff pastry is thawing.
Preheat the oven to 425 F, and adjust the oven rack to the lowest position. Lightly dust a clean counter top with some flour and gently unfold the sheet of puff pastry. Using a pizza cutter, cut along the two seams so that you have 3 pieces. Then cut each of those crosswise into four pieces, so you have 12 total. You could also get fancy and use different shaped cookie cutters if you wanted. Brush the pastry with the egg, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and lightly browned (don't worry if it doesn't look done; you will put it back in the oven later). Set aside to cool on the baking sheet until needed.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400 F (at this time I also moved the oven rack up to the middle position, because I was afraid of baking the pot pies that close to the heating element, even though the recipe didn't say to move it up).
Remove any pin bones from salmon and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Now decide whether you want to make your pot pies in individual ramekins or a 9x9 (or 9x13 if doubling the recipe) baking dish. I chose ramekins. Divide the salmon among the ramekins or spread out in the bottom of the baking dish and set aside.
Add the butter to a large Dutch oven and heat over medium. When the butter is melted, add the leeks and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, just about 15 seconds. Next, stir in the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Slowly whisk in the clam juice and milk until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Off heat, add the peas, dill (if using), lemon juice, nutmeg, and cayenne. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Pour the mixture over the salmon in the baking dish or ramekins. Use a spoon to redistribute the salmon evenly throughout the dish.
Arrange the puff pastry rectangles over the casserole, or place one on top of each ramekin. Bake for about 13-15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the salmon is fully cooked (place ramekins on a baking sheet before placing into the oven). Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving with the lemon wedges (enough time for a photo!).
Leftovers: We made four ramekins' worth of this meal, only ate two that night, and covered the other two with foil and stored in the fridge. The next night, we heated them up right in the ramekins in the microwave, using the "soup" setting. The puff pastry was obviously not as crisp the second day, but other than that it was delicious.
Make ahead: The topping can made up through that first 8 minute baking step up to one day in advance. Wrap them in plastic wrap and store at room temperature until ready to use. The sauce can be made up to a day in advance, just don't add the "off heat" ingredients. Transfer the sauce to a covered container and refrigerate. When ready to assemble and bake the casserole, transfer the sauce back to a saucepan and bring to a simmer, then proceed with the recipe.