By Chef Robert Legget
It’s not often that I get to dine out; when the opportunity to eat elsewhere arrives, I definitely try to make it count. Vernick has always been high on my list. While recently there, I was not only impressed with the bright and vibrant array of small plates that I ordered, but also with the tight, funky beer list which contained (in my opinion) the holy grail of all smoked beers—Saucony Kutztown Lager. This is a true delight of crisp, fortified malt and a nice campfire finish, perfect with almost any fatty fish dish. I then thought, could the fish be cured with this heavenly delight? Absolutely. Below is the recipe of wonders that will definitely make you a holiday star at the many festivities that the season brings upon us…
This recipe is enough cure for a 4 lb. side of salmon, skin off and pin bones removed.
Combine the following in a food processor:
- 1 ½ cup sea salt
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 oz. peeled garlic
- 1 tbsp. ground allspice
- 1 tbsp. ground star anise
- 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
- ¼ cup raw sugar
- 1 tbsp. pink curing salt
Once the ingredients are combined, turn on the food processor and allow 2-3 minutes to blend. Then, slowly add the following:
- 12 oz. Saucony Kutztown Lager
- ¼ cup honey
Once a majority of the dry ingredients have dissolved, you’re ready.
- Locate a food safe kitchen container large enough with some extra room for the salmon.
- Pour the beer cure into the container, followed by the salmon.
- Once the salmon is in, rotate the salmon from skin to flesh side repeatedly to ensure all surfaces have been covered, and finish with skin side up.
- Wait four days, remove the salmon from the cure and rinse off any remaining cure.
I enjoy cold smoking the salmon for about 20 minutes, but this fish stands up just fine alone with the smoky beer flavor that has infused. Slice against the grain as thin as you can and serve simply with fresh onions, cilantro, cream cheese, and some nice, crusty rye.