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I made a bold statement the other day.  “We ate them (potatoes) with what was, hands down, the best salmon that I have ever made. And possibly ever eaten.”  After eating the leftovers for lunch at work yesterday, I stand by that statement even more heartily.  This recipe will be making it into our dinner rotation frequently from here on out for 3 reasons: 1) it was DELICIOUS; 2) it was super-easy to make, not to mention quick (20 minutes tops); and 3) all of the ingredients are things that I keep around.  Not to mention the fact that salmon is good for you and all that stuff…  Because it’s so quick and easy, this would make a great entrée if you’re having a few people over for a dinner party.

We decided to give this recipe a try after a trip to the Asian market the other day.  You’re right, there’s nothing about this dish that screams ‘Asian flavors’!  It just so happened that on Saturday, after hiking, we stopped at the Super H Mart, a big Korean grocery store in Virginia.  And the boyfriend picked up two gorgeous salmon fillets.  I don’t tend to cook a lot of salmon, even though it’s delicious and good for me, so when we got home we looked through some of my cookbooks for inspiration.

Where did we find the recipe that caught our eye?

James Villas’ The Bacon Cookbook.  Duh.  Isn’t that where everyone looks for inspiration?  I got this for my birthday from my best friend a couple of years ago (does she know me or what?) and it has some great recipes in it.

Anyway, Villas has a recipe in the book for ‘Norwegian Bacon Wrapped Salmon.’  Yes, please!  We also checked my bible, the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, but there was nothing that intrigued us so much as the bacon wrapped goodness in the Bacon Cookbook.

The recipe is extremely simple. Make a sauce with coarse mustard (also known as stone-ground), dill, salt and pepper.  The coarse mustard makes up most of the flavor, so make sure to use the good stuff.  Slather one side of the salmon with it, then wrap a piece of bacon around each piece of salmon.  Broil.  Eat.

Collect your ingredients!  I added garlic, in part because everything is better with garlic, and partly because we were having this with garlic and rosemary roasted potatoes, and the garlic pulled it all together.  I also subbed in dried dill, because I didn’t have any fresh dill, knew I wouldn’t use all of it if I bought some fresh dill, and, well, I’m on a budget.  And we used ground pepper because I didn’t want to be chasing peppercorns everywhere as I tried to crush them without a mortar and pestle.  This turned out perfectly with the dried dill and ground pepper.

You’ll need metal skewers or toothpicks to hold the bacon in place.  If you’re using toothpicks soak them in warm water for 15-20 minutes so that they won’t just burn under the broiler.

Turn the oven on to broil.  Move the oven rack up, so that it is as close to the broiler as possible, while still leaving room to put in the broiler pan with the salmon on it.  You don’t want the salmon to touch the heating coils, but you do want it close, which will help to crisp the edges and the bacon.

We used two big salmon fillets, and cut them into four pieces.  It was skin-on salmon, and the skin ended up being melt-in-your mouth tender.  If you have a mental block against skin-on fillets, just buy skinless.  It won’t make a huge difference.

Mince the garlic, then mix it with the mustard and dill (plus salt and a lot of pepper) to make this lovely sauce.  The coarse mustard adds soooo much flavor.

Spread it over the fleshy (not skin) side of the fillet.  Then wrap each piece with bacon.  Use toothpicks or metal skewers to secure, pushing them through the meaty parts of the bacon (the fattier parts will just rip).  Because we’re using American style bacon, which is long, I just tucked the ends under.

Place the salmon onto a broiler pan, with the fleshy side (which should have the mustard sauce and most of the bacon on it) down.  Place under the broiler for 4 minutes.  Remove.

Flip the fillets carefully with a set of tongs, so that the bacon and sauce side is now up.  Place back under the broiler for another three minutes, four at most.  The bacon should be at least slightly crisp, and the salmon will definitely be cooked through.  I didn’t want to over-cook the salmon, so I removed ours even though the bacon wasn’t fully crispy.

The bacon adds a rich flavor, and provides a great contrast to the tangy mustard.  This is a winning flavor combination on so many levels!  Move to a plate, serve and enjoy!

Bacon-wrapped Salmon with Mustard-Dill Sauce
Adapted slightly from The Bacon Cookbook

Serves 4

Four salmon fillets, roughly 6-8 ounces apiece (with or without skin)
1/2 cup coarse/stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground pepper (or lightly crushed peppercorns if you have them)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 pieces of bacon, preferably thick cut

4 metal skewers or 8 (soaked in water) toothpicks

1.  Heat broiler on oven.  Move oven rack as close to broiler as possible, being sure to leave room to easily slide the broiler pan with salmon in and out.

2.  Mince garlic, then mix with mustard, dill, salt and pepper.  Coat the top of each piece of salmon (fleshy side) with sauce.

3.  Wrap each piece of salmon with a piece of bacon, securing through the meat with a skewer, or a toothpick on each end.

4.  Place on broiler pan, bacon and sauce side down.  Broil for 4 minutes.

5.  Remove from oven, and flip all 4 steaks over.  Place back under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until salmon is uniformly colored and bacon is at least starting to crisp.  Don’t over cook.  Enjoy!

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