photos by donna turner ruhlman

I’ve known of Dorie Greenspan for ages, author of numerous books, highly respected and well-liked in the food world, even has large group of blogs at Tuesdays with Dorie, dedicated to her book, Baking: From My Home To Yours.  But it wasn’t till last fall at a BlogHer gathering did I get to see for myself what a sweetheart she is. She looks like and reads just like who she is, a genuine cook and wonderful spritely soul.

Last fall she published Around My French Table, an exquisite book of her favorite recipes (and a steal at $22 from Amazon—how do they do it?!). My dear friend Lee asked for and received this book for Christmas. When we had Lee and her husband Les over for that spatchcocked grilled turkey, Lee appeared with an hors d’oeuvres from Dorie’s book. The light was right and Donna asked to shoot it. And Dorie was nice enough to send along the recipe. It was exactly as delicious as it looks in the picture.  Thanks, Dorie!

Salmon and Potatoes in a Jar

from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes From My Home To Yours

Straddling a space between gravlax and tartare, this dish is a never-fail knockout, even when you serve it, as I often do, to savvy Parisians who know it’s a modern version of a humble bistro classic, herring and potatoes. Packed into canning jars or crocks, which look great when you bring them to the table, this is really two dishes in one: there are boiled potatoes marinated in aromatic oil and chunks of salmon cured in sugar and salt, just like gravlax, then marinated. The dish is simple in every way — the only cooking involves boiling the potatoes. But you must have patience, since you have to wait a day or two before you can dig in. However, the duo is always surprising, especially to people who know the original from restaurants; they’ll invariably give you cheers for serving something most people think can only be made by a chef.

The recipe will work with any cut of salmon, but it’s best (and looks best) if you use a piece cut from the thick center portion of the fillet. With a center cut, you can slice meaty chunks of salmon that will all cure evenly.

Finally, don’t be frightened by the amount of olive oil in the recipe — it’s a lot, but you won’t be eating it all. Although you need a large quantity of oil to cover both the salmon and potatoes, neither of them will absorb much. You can use the leftover potato oil to season or cook other vegetables or to make a vinaigrette, and the salmon oil to make a vinaigrette or even a mayonnaise for other fish dishes or salads.

Be prepared: You’ll need to start at least 1 day ahead.

Makes 6 appetizer servings or 4 lunch main-course servings

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt or other coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 one-pound salmon fillet, cut from the thickest portion of the fish, skinned
  • 1 pound fingerlings or other small potatoes, scrubbed
  • 20 coriander seeds
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves, halved
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1–2 small onions, red or yellow, halved and thinly sliced
  • About 4 cups olive oil
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • Lemon or lime wedges, for serving
  1. At least 1 day before serving: Stir the salt and sugar together in a bowl. Slice the salmon into 12 equal pieces, toss the pieces into the bowl, and gently turn the salmon around to coat it evenly. (It’s easiest to use your hands for this.)
  2. Arrange the salmon snugly in a bowl or terrine (you can layer it), cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or for up to 18 hours.
  3. The following day: Have two quart-sized canning jars or crocks ready. (If you’ve got really small fingerling potatoes, they might fit into a pint jar.)  Alternatively, you can use terrines, bowls, or even heavy-duty zipper-lock plastic bags.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss the potatoes into the pot and cook until they can be pierced easily with the point of a knife, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Drain the potatoes and, if you’d like, peel them. (I usually leave the skin on.)
  5. Rinse the salmon under cold water (discard the brine) and pat dry.
  6. Divide the spices, herbs, carrots, and onions in half. Start packing the salmon into one of the canning jars, using half the aromatics. Make a layer of salmon and cover it with some of the coriander and peppercorns, a piece of bay leaf, a little thyme, and some carrot and onion; continue until all the salmon is in the jar. If you can arrange it, it’s nice to finish with a layer of spices, herbs, carrot, and onion. Pour in enough of the olive oil to cover the ingredients and seal the jar.
  7. Pack the potatoes, whole or cut into chunks, into the second jar following the same method, but this time adding a pinch of salt to each layer (potatoes have a way of gobbling up salt). When the potatoes are packed and you’ve added the oil, pour in the vinegar, seal the jar, and shake it gently a couple of times to mix the vinegar into the oil. (If you’ve packed your potatoes in another kind of container, just swish the ingredients around as best you can.)
  8. Put both jars in the refrigerator and chill for at least 6 hours, or for up to 3 days.
  9. Serve, directly from the jars if you like, with lemon or lime wedges.

I like to bring the jars to the table and pass them around with lemon or lime wedges — the salmon is nice with a squirt of juice — along with some rye, pumpernickel, or other dark bread and a hunk of butter. You could pass around a lightly dressed green salad too.

Bonne idée

Roasted Cured Salmon. Rather than marinating the salt-sugar-cured salmon, you can roast it. The salmon will be firm on the outside, rosy pink and satiny inside. To serve 4, use 4 pieces of center-cut salmon fillet, each 5 to 6 ounces, and cure them for 12 to 18 hours in a mix of 3 tablespoons coarse salt and 2 tablespoons sugar. When you’re ready to cook the salmon, rinse the pieces well and pat them dry. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 5 to 7 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the fillets reveals flesh that is set but still very pink. Serve the salmon with a gloss of melted butter or olive oil and, if you’d like, a salsa (page 305), a mango chatini (page 489), some pesto (page 488), or a parsley coulis (page 76).


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© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.



22 Wonderful responses to “Salmon and Potatoes In a Jar”

  • Paul C

    looks fantastic! I’ve done similar things in the past using jars as a sous vide vessel … Duck confit works really well in a jar. You can confit vegetables first @ 185 for an hour, let it cool down to duck temps and then add the duck into the jar and confit again.

    I haven’t tested the preservation of it for long periods of time like this, but if it’s at temp for long enough all the bugs inside should be killed…

  • Bob Y

    This is very close to pickled salmon (complete with the potatoes) available at most Jewish delis in NYC. As soon as I saw the pics, I was reminded of my Jewish grandmother serving this quite often when we went to visit.

  • Weston

    This sounds great, but Michael I’m surprised to see a recipe from an accomplished cook say to toss potatoes into boiling water. For best results potatoes (and all other root vegetables) should be started in cold water and gently brought to a simmer. This promotes more even cooking and prevents your potatoes from cracking or even exploding.

  • Noah

    I love this cookbook. More people should pick it up. It is incredibly pleasant to read and so far it has all tasted wonderful.

  • Maureen

    Dorie’s cookbooks are certainly friends of mine. 🙂 We chat often at the bookshelf. I haven’t tried this yet but I’m full of inspiration now, thanks!

  • thelittleloaf

    I made this recipe on the weekend and popped individual quantities into little jars – utterly incredible and the perfect indulgent lunch mopped up with a little crusty bread. thank you.

  • Rodney Miller

    The recipe says halve the carrots lengthwise and thinly slice, but all the images show round carrots which look better in my humble opinion.

  • Georgia Pellegrini

    I love Dorie and her recipes too. This dish is so… “thrifty.” I like the idea of just carrying a meal in a jar around with me for whenever I feel like eating it.

  • Robert Blessing

    I am headed to the Kenai River tomorrow morning to participate in the personal use subsistence dipnet fishery. If things go well, I will be bringing back 25 chrome fresh sockeye. I will definitely be putting some up in this manner.

  • Dorie Greenspan

    Thank you, Michael and Lee and Donna for making, liking, photographing and posting my recipe. It’s always such a treat for me to see my food cooked by others and a bigger treat to know that people have enjoyed it. Merci!

    And Michael, now that we’ve finally met — how could it have taken us so long???? — I hope it won’t be forever until we see one another again.

  • SulaBlue

    (Attempt #3. Apparently, C&Ping a quote into this box causes Safari to crash!)

    You mention not being afraid of the oil as the food will not absorb much. I am curious if there is an easy way for we, as home cooks, to calculate the nutrition of the foods we are making. Restaurant chefs of course can send things off to be fully analyzed – but it seems that even that would be just an estimate from one day to the next as to what actually gets absorbed.

    I’d also venture to say that someone on a sodium restricted diet is probably better off just avoiding brined/salted foods, but then just how salty ARE they? Given how much sodium I have seen in some seemingly innocent (but of course, not organic/free range/unadulterated) chicken, it seems to me that there’s the distinct possibility that there could be less sodium in a “natural” chicken breast that I brine than one I buy in a vacuum pack in the store!

    Any thoughts on calculating how much of given ingredient, be it oil or salt, that something would absorb? Calculating nutrition is all fine and dandy using many recipe program’s nutrition calculator – up until you start involving marinades and brines.

  • Bill

    I made Marie-Helen’s Apple Cake from her book last year,using local apples from a friend’s orchard. Delightful! It will be happening again soon, with Pomme Gris, Swiss Limbertwig, and Aunt Rachel from my own trees. It is a light cake with fresh, clean flavors, unlike so many cloying desserts.

  • Alice

    It’s a great dish, in a jar, nonetheless! How neat that you got to meet Dorie! It is a dream of mine now … but until then, I will continue to post on my own, humble blog with my fellow FFwD-ers with Dorie in our kitchen, in spirit!


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