Monday, April 7, 2008
Sunday Hike and Cedar Planked Salmon
This morning we got up and took a 7.5 mile hike up Thompson Peak. (One of the highest peaks in the Phoenix metro area.) Along the way we gazed at some lovely wildflowers and marveled at the cactus that are in full bloom. My friend Dana, spotted a horny toad. And yes, it is a real desert creature - get your minds out of the gutter! We did take a picture, but you really can't see him, camoflauged with the desert landscape background. After our long hike we were pooped, but nothing that an hour or two lounging by the pool didn't fix.
As you might guess, we worked up a big appetite. So, after a nice long shower, we were ready to take on dinner. We have been talking about cedar-planked salmon all week, and decided that it would be a great evening to fire up the BBQ. If you haven't tried grilling with cedar planks (or any other wooded plank - alder, oak, etc) you are missing a wonderful way to add a new depth of flavor. Simply soak your plank for at least 30 minutes. Fire up the grill and preheat. When the grill is hot and ready to go, throw your plank(s) on and let blacken for approximately 5 minutes. Flip the plank over and put your food on the blackened plank. Close the grill and continue - keeping an eye out for flares. Don't forget to sit out with a glass of wine, or cocktail of your choice, while the food is cooking, and enjoy the "campfire" smell in your backyard.
I chose to do the salmon with a very simple preparation to really let the smokey wood flavor come through. A basic grainy mustard/mayo combo spread thinly over the top, and a few sprigs of fresh dill and thyme, straight from the garden. The result was the most flavorful and moist peice of salmon I've had in sometime. To complete the meal, I served this with a quinoa pilaf and a mixed greens with strawberries and goat cheese. A-Mazing.
I was hoping to write a fantastic review of the wine pairing, but it wasn't my favorite. I had higher hopes for the 2006 La Crema Pinot Noir. It was a bit to light and overflowing with cherry for my tastes. I think with the heaviness of the salmon, we could have done a merlot or even a shiraz.