Glazed Pan-Seared Salmon from The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook

Summer in Kentucky

A few weeks ago I was in Kentucky enjoying a long awaited family vacation. Kentucky was full of sunshine and the sounds and smells of summer lodged deep in my childhood memories. I basked in the warm night air listening to music along the river, watching fireworks over the river, eating ice cream and trying to catch the melting drips with my tongue before they spilled onto my hand and arm. It was bliss.

While in Kentucky I also enjoyed the sunny attitude of the people there. It seemed that everywhere we went we were greeted with smiles, with interest, with the energy of thoughtful intentions. Maybe it is southern hospitality. Maybe it is living in the sunshine (something I dream of as I wait for the forecasted “morning clouds” to burn off here, even though it is well past 3pm this July afternoon). Or maybe it is simply my giddy joy in feeling genuinely at home somewhere even though that somewhere is several decades and a few thousand miles away most of the time.

Cookbook Travel

While that Kentucky summer sunshine seems far away at the moment I have a new cookbook to review that conjures up fond memories of my home state in no time. It is called The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook. The author, Albert W. A. Schmid, who has worked as an executive chef, is now teaching at Sullivan University's National Center for Hospitality Studies in Louisville, KY. The book contains an impressive collection of recipes, many from famous chefs and food personalities and many using not only bourbon but other regional ingredients as well.

This cookbook is relatively small in size and while it does contain full-page color pictures they are gathered into a center section of the book rather than being printed beside the recipes they feature. As a food blogger I found that format a bit challenging as I am used to seeing what a dish looks like as I read about how to prepare it.

On the other hand the recipes are easy to find and follow as they are arranged, for the most part, one to a page. Each is accompanied by some explanation of the origin of the recipe and sometimes a word of advice or other recommendation is given. I liked that the recipes were arranged by season with a separate chapter dedicated to beverages. There was also a good bit of useful reference information added in a glossary, notes, a list of bourbon distilleries, several indexes and a bibliography in the back.

Eager to be reminded of my recent visit to the region and those delightful warm evenings I dug right into the summer chapter. Intrigued by the introductions I read through recipe after recipe. They were inventive and inspiring and soon I found the book adorned with a host of brightly colored sticky notes.

Inspiring Recipes

I stuck one marker on a recipe for Sweet Vidalia Kentucky Bourbon Sauté noting that I should try it with the Walla Walla Sweet Onions that I can easily obtain locally. I also marked Kentucky Bourbon Baked Beans for anticipated late summer barbecues and Steak with Bourbon-Ginger Sauce, a unique take on marinated grilled flank steak borrowed from another favorite book of mine: Around the Southern Table by Sarah Belk. There were even recipes for a Bourbon Apple Pie and a Kentucky Bourbon Banana Flambé and that was just in the "Summer" section. Backing up to "Spring" I found a recipe for Candied Kentucky Bourbon-Bacon Bites and I had to smile.

This cookbook is loaded with interesting recipes but I needed to narrow down the choices and put something on for dinner. I decided on the recipe for Pan-Seared Salmon with Chipotle Honey-Lime Bourbon Glaze. It sounded like the perfect way to cook the wild-caught Coho salmon available at my local market and promised to take me on a flavor journey that mirrored my life, back through the southwest and into the heart of Kentucky. It did not disappoint.

In fact this recipe could not have been more satisfying. Each flavor in the sauce was uniquely displayed while blending into a smooth and lingering complexity. The dark sweetness of the honey and bright tart touch of lime held the smokiness of the bourbon and the heat of the chipotle in a delightfully suspended tension while balancing the wild flavor of the fish. Each bite was a revelation worth savoring. Served with a Lemon Rice Pilaf and Stir Fried Snow Peas or Corn Salad with Pecan Dressing it makes a light and impressive summer meal.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Chipotle Honey-Lime Bourbon Glaze
from The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook by Albert W. A. Schmid

Salt and pepper
4 salmon fillets
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup Kentucky bourbon
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon lime juice
Candied lime zest

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Place the salmon in the skillet, skin side up, and sear it for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the salmon from the skillet and set aside.

Turn the burner down to low. Add the honey, bourbon, chili powder, and lime juice to the skillet. Whisk the ingredients together and continue heating the mixture until the glaze thickens slightly.

Return the seared salmon fillets to the pan and cook the mixture for 3 to 5 more minutes, or until the salmon is light pink inside.

Plate the salmon or remove it to a serving platter. Drizzle the glaze over the salmon fillets and garnish with candied lime zest.



Anonymous said...

This recipe sounds absolutely fabulous--I would LOVE to try it soon!
BTW, I have family connections in the area you visited (if I read the sign correctly)--although it is from 2 generations back:) Loved seeing a photo of that area! It is pretty!
Blessings, Aimee

grace said...

i hate it when people make salmon look and sound so good. i always see the greatest glazes and sauces paired with it, and to me, that's just wasted. :)

Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes said...

Always looking for new salmon recipes, and I just happen to have a bottle of bourbon awaiting me for this!