Try this dilled salmon mac and cheese for New Year’s Eve
This is a wonderful dish for parties because it’s elegant but easy to eat. I’ve always been fond of adding aromatic fresh dill to creamed salmon dishes, and including little bits of smoked salmon creates a far more complex flavor. The sauce can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Bring it to a simmer over low heat. Do not cook the pasta until just prior to serving. 1/2 lb. campanelle (or other similar dried pasta) 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided 4 oz. fresh salmon fillet, skinned Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 2 shallots, minced 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 2 cups half-and-half, warmed 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tsp. grated lemon zest 6 oz. mascarpone 2 oz. freshly grated Parmesan 1 oz. smoked salmon, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta until it is al dente. Drain the pasta, run it under cold water and return it to the pot.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter, and rub it on both sides of the salmon. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, and enclose it in a square of aluminum foil. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until it is cooked through and flakes easily. When cool enough to handle, break the salmon into 1-inch pieces.
Heat the remaining butter in a saucepan over mediumlow heat. Add the shallots, and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until they soften. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until the mixture turns slightly beige, is bubbly, and appears to have grown in volume. Increase the heat to medium, and slowly whisk in the half-and-half. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 2 minutes.
Stir in the dill, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Add the cheese to the sauce by 1/2cup measures, stirring until the cheese melts before making another addition. Stir in the smoked salmon, and simmer for 1 minute.
Add the sauce to the pasta, and stir well. Gently fold in the salmon, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until the pasta is hot and coated with the sauce. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
— From “Mac & Cheese” by Ellen Brown (Running Press, $20)
Dilled salmon mac and cheese, featured in Ellen Brown’s new book,“Mac and Cheese,” is an upscale spin on one of America’s favorite comfort foods. CONTRIBUTED BY STEVE LEGATO