As we learned with recipes for beef, lamb, pork, and poultry, cooking en cocotte — cooking a protein in a covered pot with little to no liquid — concentrates flavor.
We were skeptical that the technique would successfully translate to fish. Fish cooks quickly; would the fish dry out in the dry pot? We gave the technique a shot with fatty salmon fillets, however, and we were more than pleasantly surprised.
By passing on searing the salmon fillets, we found that we got just what we wanted: perfectly cooked, moist salmon, basted in its own jus, that flaked apart in large buttery chunks.
Leeks sauteed and then layered first in the pot contributed their onion-like sweetness and protected the fish from the heat of the pan bottom. A quick sauce made with white wine and butter added some more dimension and richness.
To ensure uniform pieces of fish that cook at the same rate, we prefer to buy a whole center-cut fillet and cut it into evenly sized individual fillets ourselves. If buying individual fillets, make sure they are the same size and thickness.
If the fillets are thicker or thinner than 1 1/2 inches, you may need to adjust the cooking time slightly. If you can find only skin-on fillets, remove the skin before cooking or the sauce will be greasy.
SALMON EN COCOTTE WITH LEEKS AND WHITE WINE
Start to finish: 50 minutes
1 (1 3/4- to 2 pound) skinless salmon fillet, about 1 1/2 inches at thickest part
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin and washed thoroughly
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
SALMON EN COCOTTE WITH CELERY AND ORANGE
Nutrition information per serving: 450 calories; 228 calories from fat; 25 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 124 mg cholesterol; 389 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 40 g protein.