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Seared salmon with tarragon red wine sauce and braised chicory

Serves: 4
timePrep time: 45 mins
timeTotal time:
Seared salmon with tarragon red wine sauce and braised chicory
Recipe photograph by Toby Scott

Seared salmon with tarragon red wine sauce and braised chicory

Chef William Drabble heads up the kitchen at Seven Park Place at St James's Hotel. He says: 'This is a fairly simple dish which is tasty but not too time-consuming to make. It’s quite light as far as Christmas food goes, which makes a great alternative to the usual Christmas fare. My mother-in-law was from Belgium and at Christmas we would always have chicory (or endive) slow-cooked with bacon, so this brings back fond memories of sitting around having family meals with loved ones.’

Serves: 4
timePrep time: 45 mins
timeTotal time:

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Nutritional information (per serving)


  • 1 x 600g side of salmon
For the sauce
  • 50ml vegetable oil
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 2 echalion shallots, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 350ml red wine
  • 500ml fish or chicken stock*
  • 2 sprigs tarragon, plus 1 tsp chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cornflour (optional)
For the braised chicory
  • 4 heads of chicory
  • 8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • about 750ml hot chicken stock*
  • 20g unsalted butter

Step by step

  1. Preheat the oven 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Add the chicory heads to a large pan of boiling salted water, simmer for a couple of minutes then drain and refresh in iced water (the blanching removes some bitterness from the chicory). Squeeze any excess water from the chicory heads, keeping them whole.
  2. Wrap 2 rashers of bacon around each chicory head and place them in a small roasting tin or dish. Pour over the hot chicken stock until it’s just about level with the top of the chicory then dot with the butter. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes until tender.
  3. Once the chicory is in the oven, get started on the sauce. First skin the salmon using a large sharp knife; holding the blade at roughly a 45- degree angle, cut in close to the tail end (gripping the end with a piece of kitchen paper) then slide the blade along between the skin and the flesh. Trim off about 4cm of salmon from the tail end and dice this finely to use in the sauce base, as well as any salmon that got left on the skin.
  4. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the diced salmon until well caramelised, then remove to a plate. Reduce the heat and add 20g butter, the shallots and garlic plus a pinch of salt to the pan and cook gently until soft and sweet, then drain off the excess fat into a small bowl and reserve. Return the caramelised salmon to the pan along with the red wine and reduce slowly until it is syrupy and almost no liquid is left. Now add the stock, tarragon sprigs and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 20 minutes (adding some water if it reduces too quickly). Strain through a fine sieve into a small pan.
  5. When the chicory is tender, remove the foil from the dish and drain off the cooking liquid. Pop the dish back in the oven for about 15 minutes to crisp up the bacon.
  6. Season the salmon side with sea salt and heat about 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil in a non-stick frying pan large enough to hold the salmon side. Add to the pan and fry gently for about 3 minutes until the salmon is cooked half-way through (you’ll see the flesh change colour). Turn the heat off and turn the salmon over. Leave it to finish cooking in the residual heat of the pan for a couple of minutes.
  7. Place the red wine sauce back on the hob and bring to the boil. Dice the remaining 20g butter and whisk in until emulsified (if you like the sauce a little thicker you could add a tiny bit of diluted cornflour to thicken it). Season to taste and add the chopped tarragon. Serve with the salmon and the braised chicory. *Use gluten-free stock if required.

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