GRILLED SALMON WITH SUMMER SUCCOTASH AND CREAMED CORN by Charlotte Culinary Expert Heidi Billotto

cropped-heidi-cooks-logo.jpgSomething about Summer – Just love the flavors of local corn, tomatoes and fresh shelled limas? We in the Carolinas are lucky enough to find ourselves smack in the season for succotash, creamed corn and a plethora of ways to eat, cook and serve up local tomatoes! Inspired by a Facebook post from my friend Susan Dosier, lover of local food herself; I decided to share this, one of my favorite recipes for superb summer supper all served atop a bed of local succotash.

Of course, the wild salmon I call for in this recipe is not local to Charlotte, NC; but it is in season and readily available at fish mongers around town, so take the opportunity to enjoy.
All the vegetables in the succotash and creamed corn may be sourced locally this time of year – with the crazy weather we have been having, it may still be a bit early for the limas, so if you can’t find them at any one of Charlotte’s many local farmers’ markets, then opt for frozen baby limas – I prefer organic.
Local corn is spot on right now – I found beautiful ears of a fresh corn variety called ‘Incredible” ( and it is!) at the Atherton Farmers’ Market in SouthEnd last Saturday ( August 3, 2013)  from Paul Brewington of Brewington Farms.

In fact, I will be making the creamed corn recipe here to use in a tasty jalapeno cornbread I am making for a cooking segment on WCNC’s Charlotte Today on Thursday August 8. Be sure to tune in (Channel 36, 11am – noon) or look on these pages for a post of the video and the afore mentioned cornbread recipe the end of this week. Paul tells me he has Collards coming up for the fall season, so look for more on local greens in the months ahead; but I digress….

As far as the condiments for today’s recipe go – for top notch extra virgin olive oil the Queen City I turn to my friends Sophie and Doug at Pour Olive, a gourmet olive oil and artisan vinegar shop On East Blvd. in Charlotte’s Dilworth neighborhood. Pour Olive features current harvest olive oils from around the world and so the selection of these golden elixirs changes from season to season. Right now I am loving the Picual from the well-known Oro Bailen Estate in Spain and the Koroneiki from Greece – both would work well in the recipe, its just a matter of your personal taste. Do stop by Pour Olive to visit and taste and make your own selections or use my choices as a guide. Pour Olive is truly a gem in Charlotte’s culinary landscape.

And here’s yet another – For spices, dried herbs, my favorite sea salt and the ingredients that make up the Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend noted in the recipe, take a culinary field trip to the Savory Spice Shop in SouthEnd. My friends and fellow foodies Amy and Scott McCabe and their knowledgeable staff will help guide you in your selection of dried spice and herbs and will measure out whatever you need. The beauty of shopping at the Savory Spice Shop is that you can buy a pinch or a pound of any of the high quality, often organic, dried herbs and spices to use at the peak of flavor.

I love the pink Himalayan sea salt and use the coarse grind most of the time. It works particularly well on proteins ( like the wild salmon listed in this recipe) Season the fish before cooking, as the coarse ground salt adds flavor but doesn’t pull out too much moisture.
As for the pepper – I have come up with two mixes that my husband, Tom Billotto and I love to spice things up with – I’ve given one the moniker Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend; and the other, simply, Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend with Coriander.

The original Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend came to be because I loved a product called Hot Shot available at most grocery stores in the spice department.
However as my philosophy of trying to eat and cook with local and organic products has developed, I have opted not to purchase commercially packaged products that rely so heavily on preservative and chemicals to maintain freshness.
When I found the Savory Spice Shop in Charlotte’s SouthEnd neighborhood I was in heaven and totally redid  my spice drawers. Tossing out the old and enjoying the selection of the new and interesting.
My new pepper blend is a combination of Tellicherry, Lampong and Pink Reunion Peppercorns  – equal parts of each –  and I grind up new batches as needed in my coffee grinder. For summer I have started adding in an equal amount of coriander seed to the mix – it adds a nice spicy and  citrusy touch – perfect with the grilled fish here and on chicken and veggies, too.
I suggest you wander in the Savory Spice Shop SouthEnd when you get a chance and be prepared to taste you way through the flavorful selection of dried herbs and spices before you buy. Tell them you want Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend and they’ll know just what to measure out for you – with or without the coriander.

Now that you have all the particulars – lets get on with the recipe… all the parts stand up deliciously on their own or together they make for the perfect summer supper – Enjoy!

Here is what you’ll need:
For the succotash:
1 1/2 pounds local baby lima beans, shelled,
2 large ears local corn, kernels cut from the cob (about 2 cups)
1 large local tomato, seeded, diced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh local or organic Italian parsley
2 Tbsp. of your favorite Pour Olive extra-virgin olive oil

For the creamed corn:
7 large ears local corn, kernels cut from cob (about 7 cups)
¼ cup heavy cream or half and half ( or the new coconut milk creamers work well, too)

For the vinaigrette:
1 lb. local tomatoes, chopped – no need to seed or peel
2/3 cup your favorite Pour Olive extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove local or organic garlic, minced
4 Tbsp. Pour Olive Blueberry Ginger infused balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend from the Savory Spice Shop

For the fish:
Your Favorite Pour Olive extra virgin Olive oil
4 ( 6 oz) portions of wild salmon

Here’s what to do:
For the succotash: Cook beans in large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon or strainer, transfer beans to colander; reserve cooking water. Rinse beans with cold water. Add corn kernels to reserved cooking water and cook until just tender, about 1 minute. Drain. Return beans and corn to same saucepan. Mix in tomato, Italian parsley and extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand covered at room temperature. Rewarm over low heat before serving.)

For the creamed corn: Place corn kernels in processor. Puree until liquid is released from corn, about 3 minutes (mixture will still be coarse). Transfer one third of the pureed corn to strainer set over large measuring cup. Press on solids in strainer to extract as much juice as you can; discard solids. Transfer corn juice to medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat just until juice begins to thicken, Add remaining corn kernels and whipping cream to saucepan and stir just until corn is heated through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste
with salt and pepper. Remove creamed corn from heat; cover to keep warm.

For the vinaigrette:
Season tomatoes with coarse sea salt and Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and saute garlic and tomatoes 4- 5 minutes till the tomatoes begin to soften. Remove from heat, add balsamic vinegar and remaining olive oil. Toss well to blend.

Chad Parks masters the technique for grilling wild salmon!

Chad Parks masters the technique for grilling wild salmon

For the fish:
Sprinkle fillets with coarse salt and  Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend with Coriander.  heat grill, place fillets on the grill skin side up . Cook fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness – measure them at the thickest part and then turn them over using a pair of tongs and a spatula, halfway during the grilled time. After fish has grilled the skin will easily peel off should you wish to remove it, although some people love crispy salmon skin.

To serve:

Divide creamed corn and succotash equally among 4 plates. Top each serving with a grilled fillet. Spoon tomato vinaigrette atop each fillet and serve.

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