The slightly sweet combination of bourbon, orange, and cherry have kept the Old Fashioned Cocktail in vogue for many years. Here, those flavors are combined into a mouth-watering glaze that is drizzled over top of perfectly cooked salmon fillets.
Cliff Notes: Brush bourbon on a salmon filet, season with seafood seasoning and orange zest, then bake, skin-side-down at 425° for 4-6 minutes per half-inch of thickness until it reaches an internal temp of 130°. Make glaze by reducing all ingredients except zest until syrupy. Add zest and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Make It Your Own: – Substitute your favorite variety of Old Fashioned liquor – use bourbon, whiskey or brandy if that’s what you prefer, or a different flavored bourbon (I’ve seen a maple smoked bourbon that would be amazing!) – For a spicier version, add sliced fresh jalapenos to the glaze. They’ll cook down to a spicy sweet deliciousness. – This glaze would also be AMAZING on pork or chicken.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, one of the things I look forward to every summer is when Columbia River salmon starts showing up at the fish counter. This Chinook (a.k.a. King) variety of salmon has a bright orange flesh and a relatively high amount of fat that helps to keep it moist and flavorful.
When buying salmon, be sure to talk to the person behind the counter. Ask if it’s wild-caught or farm-raised; has the fish been previously frozen; and how long has the fish been in the case. The unicorn of salmon buying is fresh, wild-caught that arrived in the store that morning.
But, if that’s not available, here’s what I aim for: – Wild-caught, never frozen – this is ideal unless it’s been sitting in the case for a while. If it looks dried out or dull, don’t buy it. – Farm-raised, never frozen – 2nd best, with the same qualifiers as above. – Previously frozen, either wild or fresh – buy only if you’re cooking it that day. Otherwise, buy it frozen and slowly thaw in the fridge. This is the best option to avoid it turning mushy. – If in doubt about the freshness or firmness of the fish, don’t buy it.
And while I truly enjoy salmon cooked very basically with lemon and butter, I also love to expand the options by adding glazes and sauces, and the bourbon, sugar, and orange flavors of the Old Fashioned cocktail are practically made for salmon. Here, I’m using Brown Sugar Bourbon which includes notes of brown sugar and cinnamon, and takes this glaze over the top! But if you use a more traditional bourbon, just add a couple of tablespoons of raw or brown sugar for a touch of sweetness.
Add all the glaze ingredients except the orange zest to a small saucepan and cook, over medium heat, until the sauce has reduced and is thick and syrupy, about 30-35 minutes.
Stir in Orange Zest and drizzle over top of baked salmon.
BAKE THE SALMON:
Preheat oven to 425°. Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.
Using paper towels, pat the salmon on both sides to completely dry it, then set the salmon, skin-side down on the foil-lined pan. Measure the thickness of the fish. You will want to cook it for 4-6 minutes for each half-inch of thickness.
Brush the top of the salmon fillet with the bourbon, then sprinkle with the seafood seasoning and grated orange rind.
When oven has pre-heated, bake the fish for 4 minutes per half-inch of thickness (so if your fish is 1-in thick, check for doneness after 8 minutes).
Remove the salmon from the oven when the internal temperature is 130°-135°.
Add broccolini stalks to a small pot of boiling, salted water. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the stalks are tender and the broccolini is a bright green. Remove the broccolini from the boiling water and immediately immerse in a bowl of ice water to cool and stop the cooking process. After 1-2 minutes, remove from the ice water, chop into 1″ pieces, and set aside.
In a medium pan that has a tight-fitting lid, over medium heat, melt the butter and add the chopped onion. Sautee the onion for 2-3 minutes until very soft, but not browned. Add in the rice and stir to thoroughly coat the rice in butter. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the rice begins to turn opaque and slightly browns. Add in the chicken stock, bay leaf, orange peel, and salt. Put the lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 17-20 minutes without removing the lid until liquid is completely absorbed and rice is mostly tender.
Remove the pan from the heat, take the lid off the pan and cover with a clean dishtowel, then replace the lid and let sit, covered for 5-10 minutes.
Remove the lid and dishtowel, and stir in the brocollini.