I’m just nuts about my classic Italian leaning Old School Chicken Piccata, so it stands to reason I’d be crazy about this twist, Creamy Salmon Piccata. If you love fresh, lemony, garlicky flavors and you love salmon, I think this will be a winner for you! The touch of cream in the recipe, btw, rounds out those flavors and takes the whole dish next level.
And while this salmon dish is sounding and lookin’ all fancy and elegant, it’s super easy to make and quick to pull off with a minimum of effort and very little cleanup. I don’t know about you but that’s bonus points as far as I’m concerned. I think of dishes like this as “hero” recipes – they’re gonna make you look like a hero for sure and when the compliments roll in you can say, “Aw, thanks, it was nothing!” (But no one will believe you, btw, because it tastes so amazing!)
About Creamy Salmon Piccata:
I gotta have a geek-out moment here and talk about Piccata. See, I always thought recipes for Piccata (veal was the original) were Italian, but it turns out to be Italian American, probably invented here in the states in the 1930s. Frankie Bones thinks it was probably Sicilian because the ingredients are often found in Sicilian cuisine.
But that means I don’t have to feel too bad about drizzling in the distinctly American touch of cream in the resulting sauce, which is pretty much a recent (but fabulous) fad in the world of Piccata dishes. For me, just a touch is perfect, but this recipe is so easily adaptable, you can increase the amount if you wish for more sauce.
You might also notice the recipe is for four pieces of salmon, but I only made two this time because I was the only one home. One to eat for dinner, one for the next day! It’s easy to increase or decrease to serve whatever size your family happens to be.
What to Serve with Creamy Salmon Piccata:
With the assertive garlicky, lemony flavors, your salmon is def going to be the star of the show, as it should be with the price of salmon these days! (See below on when and how to shop for Salmon to keep it budget-friendly.) It’s best to keep the sides simple. A little pasta or rice (or rice pilaf like this one if you want to go to a bit more work) is perfect to soak up the flavors of that sauce. I used Linguine but Orzo or Cous Cous would be on point, too. If you’d like to fancy up your Cous Cous, this Kicked Up Cous Cous would be amazing!
A little green salad before and your fave green vegetable (like this Oven Roasted Broccoli or Simply Steamed Broccoli, broccolini, some type of simple green or Brussels) are going to complement the Creamy Salmon Piccata best. And who knows, maybe you’ll have room for dessert!
Making Creamy Salmon Piccata:
I prefer to use skinless salmon filets in this recipe, but it’s your choice. If you wish to skin, it’s super easy. Lay the salmon skin side down on your board then run a sharp knife at an angle across the skin while holding the filet in place with your other hand.
You’ll start the recipe by seasoning the salmon and then giving it a light dredge in flour. Toss it in the hot pan with the oil and butter (butter for flavor, oil to help keep the butter from burning) and cook to desired doneness. Remove the salmon from the pan and the magic starts!
Toss the garlic in, then the wine, and reduce that at a quick simmer. Then in goes all the rest of the flavor: the capers, lemon juice, and zest, and any juices given off from the salmon while it was resting. You could stop here, btw. The dish is delish just as is. But to take it over the top, mix in cornstarch with the stock (this will help keep the sauce from breaking later when the cream is added. Toss that into the skillet and bring up to a quick simmer. Quickly whisk in the cream and remove from heat then add the salmon back in to coat with the sauce.
Storing Creamy Salmon Piccata:
Whether storing the salmon before using or planning to set aside the leftovers, remember the old adage, attributed to Ben Franklin: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Keep your salmon cold, and use it quickly.
If reheating, do so ever so gently. A low setting on the microwave works well, but a high setting will cause the sauce to break down and feel greasy. Leftovers would be marvelous in a salad, too.
Saving Money on Creamy Salmon Piccata:
The trick for buying sales-priced Salmon is to watch your timing! You’ll find fresh salmon at a low around any of the summer holidays, and many holidays throughout the year. Check out Aldi and though it might not be any cheaper, you might get more bang for your buck and better quality at your Buyer’s Club. I always prefer wild-caught salmon if possible, over farm-raised. If your Salmon is labeled Atlantic Salmon, you’ll know it’s farm-raised. They’ve been fished out and are protected.
Frozen can be a great option, too, and is often cheaper than fresh. I look for a great store special on frozen salmon through the Lenten season, prior to Easter and you may find fresh at a great price, too. To see other items on sale during Lent, check out my post Easter & Lent, Leveraging the Sales. For even serving sizes, I often buy a side of salmon and cut my filets. I keep any trimmings and toss in the freezer to make Salmon Burgers out of later when I have enough.
There is no getting around the fact that capers are a luxury item. Look for them on sale during holidays, and check items grouped for a quick sale in the store – in mine, they are often in a cart near the front at 50% off. “Buy by” dates have no real meaning when it comes to briny capers; they’re good literally for years. They could be cut back a bit in this recipe, too, if you want to stretch them. When using capers, strain over a small glass, then put the unused capers back in the jar and toss that brine back over them.
In season in the winter months, look for bags of lemon on special – crunch the numbers. There’s really not much reason to pay full price as lemons store well in a bag in the fridge as long as they’re kept out of condensation. Look for lemons that are heavy for their size. Use every bit – the rind can be grated and saved in a small Ziploc in the freezer for dressings or recipes.
Guys, I always think of dishes like this in the spring, so fresh and bright when everything around us is still brown, dull, and dreary. The truth is, of course, this will be legit any time of the year!
But speaking of spring, I was surprised to see the backyard here in Georgia filled with hundreds of trillium. I believe the one above is called toad shade, which is apt because there are hundreds of toads, too! I had one trillium in my yard in the cities, which I nurtured and protected and never had any luck propagating. I hope it’s spring wherever you are too but if not, the promise of it is here!
Creamy Salmon Piccata
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: main dish
- Cuisine: Italian
- 4 six-ounce pieces of salmon
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (more if needed)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (4 to 6 cloves)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest & the juice of 1/2 lemon (use the rest of the lemon for serving)
- 3/4 cup chicken broth or stock
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- parsley and or chives for garnish (optional)
Season salmon with salt and pepper. Lightly coat in flour and shake off excess. Discard any remaining flour.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil and melt butter. (If your skillet isn’t large enough, do this in batches, wiping the skillet clean before the second batch.)
When butter and oil start to sizzle, add salmon and sauté for about three minutes until lightly browned. Watch closely and make sure the butter doesn’t burn – turn heat down and take the pan off the burner to cool it a bit if it gets too hot. When Salmon is lightly browned and done around the edge, flip and cook other side for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer Salmon to a plate.
To proceed, add pan back to burner, add garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add wine to the pan and reduce to a few tablespoons. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the capers and lemon zest, add any accumulated juices from the plate the Salmon was sitting on.
In the meantime, add the cornstarch to a cup and while stirring, slowly add in the chicken stock. Add all to the pan, bring up to a simmer to slightly thicken, and then whisk in the cream. Turn off heat, return Salmon to pan to coat with the sauce, then serve with a bit of the sauce drizzled over. Garnish with parsley and/or chives, if desired along with lemon slices or wedges.
Keywords: Alcohol, capers, Chicken Stock, Cream, Fish and Seafood, Lemon, Salmon, Wine
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