Salmon with Red Wine-Balsamic Sauce

by Food Hound on May 26, 2011

in Main Dishes, Sauces and Dressings, Seafood

As most of you know, the Booze Hound and I are in the middle of our Paleo Challenge through our local CrossFit Ktown. What this means is that for 10 weeks we are eschewing all grains and dairy in favor of a diet consisting exclusively of meat, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies. Oh yes, and lots of tasty fat.

It’s supposed to mimic the type of diet our paleolithic ancestors ate, with some modern exceptions that are permitted due to their low insulin promotion, like butter, heavy cream and a little red wine here and there. I firmly believe that if the paleolithic peeps discovered wine, we’d all be running around in loin cloths spearing elk because their would be no need to evolve further once red wine was in the discussion.
All in all, except for the tears I shed watching the pizza commercials in the NHL playoffs, the Challenge is going well. You know I love me some baking and I love love love me some dairy products, and it has been hard to go without, but hey- it’s only 10 weeks. And it’s supposed to be hard- that’s why it’s a Challenge.
And really, who wouldn’t benefit from a steady stream of fruits and veggies? And nice, healthy fats from nuts and grass-fed animals? We feel great, and our HDL “good” cholesterol has soared and our LDL “bad” cholesterol has dropped even more (wasn’t high to begin with but downward movement is always good!). So heed my warning low-fat, high-carb lovers… it’s the endless supply of sugar in the American diet that they’re finding is the main culprit behind the chronic disease epidemic, and NOT fat.
But lest you think I turn into a paleolithic woman who wears a tiger fur to work and doesn’t believe in deodorant, think again… I have a recipe for salted caramel brownies on my fridge, and a day-by-day countdown till I get to make them πŸ™‚ After all, I live to eat, and a life without brownies, croissants, cake and baguette is a cold and empty life, indeed.
But here’s something I don’t like about the Paleo diet: there’s nothing sexy.
Wait, excuse me, there’s bacon. OK, so there’s nothing sexy aside from bacon. And one cannot live on bacon alone. Can one…??
There are some people who get all kinds of hot and bothered by a nice slab of juicy steak, all sizzly and marbled. I enjoy a nice, grilled steak as much as the next Hound, but I’m looking for something special.

Maybe the paleolithic man would have stuck around longer if he had, actually, used some sugar. Think about it… Paleo Man is courting a Paleo Lady. He wants to impress her, but he has a rival. Paleo Man spears her a wooly mammoth for meat and wooly warmth for the winter. Rival Man makes her creme brulee.
Game, set, match Rival Man. I wouldn’t have minded being a little chilly in the Ice Age for a creme brulee.
So it’s my job as the Food Hound to find something sexy. After all, the Booze Hound and I need something fabulous for our FIVE-YEAR anniversary this week. I’m fresh out of saber-toothed tiger, and the Booze Hound knows that a wooly mammoth just isn’t my style. The Doberhound sheds enough.
Luckily, Food and Wine heard my plight and printed Salmon with Red Wine-Balsamic Sauce. That’s not just Paleo sexy. That’s all-around sexy. Seared salmon topped with a rich, syrupy sauce of red wine, cream and butter. Yowzah!
I’m not going to lie, I saved the leftover sauce to use on grilled steak next week. If you’re trying to impress the love in your life (whether s/he sports a loin cloth or Burberry boxers), make this sauce and serve it with your meat or fish of choice. In fact, you could even pour it over wooly mammoth and it would be good. I licked my plate. Hey, the Ice Age might start tomorrow, gotta savor every drop!
But it better not come before I get to make my salted caramel brownies πŸ™‚
Salmon with Red-Wine Balsamic Sauce
Adapted from Food and Wine
Serves 4
2 T good olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 thyme sprig
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 c dry red wine
1/4 c good balsamic vinegar (great one here from Avanti Savoia!)
2 T heavy cream
4 T cold, unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons (I use pasture butter in everything, FYI)
Salt and freshly-ground pepper
4 6-oz salmon filets
1. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 T of the olive oil. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the thyme sprig, black pepper, red wine and balsamic vinegar and boil over high heat until reduced to 2 T, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream, then whisk in the butter, 1 T at a time. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Strain into a bowl and keep warm.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 T olive oil until shimmering. Season the salmon filets with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet, skin-side up. Cook over moderately high heat until the filets are browned, about 4 minutes. Turn the salmon and cook over moderate heat until the fish is just opaque throughout, about 3 minutes longer. Slide each filet off of its skin and transfer to plates. Spoon the sauce over the fish and garnish with ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Pip & Ebby May 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Wow, good for you guys for sticking to a plan! My hubby and I just celebrated our five-year anniversary, too! Totally loving the sauce you made for this salmon. Sounds incredible!


Parsley Sage May 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Hilarious. The mental images you sparked in this post were particularly entertaining. Smelly tiger-furred coworker. Wow. Great recipe too, I’m a sucker for anything smothered in balsamic. It’s a good kind of ‘pucker.’

Congrats on five years! Well done Hounds!


Joanne May 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Fat is DEFINITELY not the cause of health problems in America..I wholeheartedly agree with that! And I’m sure if more people ate healthy delicious meals like this, the obesity epidemic would be a figment of our imaginations. I want to bathe in that sauce.

Of course…salted caramel brownies are still absolutely necessary. In moderation.


Xinmei @ Pudding Pie Lane May 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Hehe πŸ™‚ I actually sat down to read this post with a mug of hot chocolate… oh dear :S Maybe if the ice age man had a mug of hot chocolate he would have won over ice age lady too? We all love our comfort foods πŸ™‚ You’re doing very well on this challenge, I think I would have caved in by now… had there not been the bacon. The bacon is good πŸ˜€


Jess May 26, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Every time I read one of your Paleo posts it reminds me how attracted I’ve been recently to the idea of the raw diet. These go-back-to-how-things-were diets, though not something I’d do 100%, sound so refreshing. Plus, it seems like you’re coming up with some pretty fantastic meals in the process!


Chris May 27, 2011 at 12:40 am

Be right back. I have to go sharpen my spear and adjust my loin cloth.

No cheese? I’d have to quit. I don’t have that kind of will power, you rock!


kellypea May 27, 2011 at 6:00 am

Hey! I made this exact recipe two nights ago. I don’t drool over salmon but this caught my eye because of the red wine and we loved it! Ten weeks IS a challenge and it sounds like you two are doing great. You look terrific :). So happy to have met you in Atlanta, and wish we could have spent more time together. I lost track of you. I got to sample food in a restaurant that would have been perfect for your diet πŸ™‚


Table Talk May 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm

10 weeks really isn’t all that long in the grand scheme of things. You have picked the right time of year to do this diet, at the beginning of grill season, and opening of farmer’s markets. This wine sauce sounds luxurious! Keep us posted on your progress


Indie.Tea May 30, 2011 at 10:54 pm

What an interesting diet. Can’t wait to get your perspective on it a bit later, when you’re really far into it.
And the salmon sounds delicious, and pretty darn healthy too.


France Morissette June 1, 2011 at 6:19 pm

HOw long has it been? You must be about half way through? Good for you for sticking to it. It’s amazing that more people aren’t aware about the sugar epidemic and how it relates to our health problem epidemic. If we’re all a little more vocal the better. Great post.


Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic June 1, 2011 at 9:31 pm

I just bought some salmon and was just wondering what kind of new flavor combo/preparation I can use for it – this sounds good!!

Oh and what’s wrong with tiger fur?? :p


A SPICY PERSPECTIVE June 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Yeah, that sauce sounds like it would be good on just about anything. No wonder you saved it!


Mary June 2, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Your salmon looks delicious and I really must congratulate you on your commitment to this regime. Just don’t take to extremes. Remember paleolithic man became extinct :-). Have a great day. Blessings…Mary


Courtney June 2, 2011 at 10:00 pm

This salmon looks and sounds amazing! I hope you and The Booze Hound had a fabulous anniversary! πŸ™‚


Tammy June 3, 2011 at 4:41 am

This salmon looks sooo delicious especially with that balsamic and wine sauce! Yum!


Reply June 7, 2011 at 1:17 am

My husband loves salmon and I am always looking for new recipes to try! This one looks incredible! I can’t wait to surprise him with it!


Christina June 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Hi there,

I have a quick question about your site. Would you mind emailing me back when you have a minute @

Thank you,


Lynn June 9, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Most impressive willpower…

The salmon looks yummy. I am thinking this could be modified for the grill?


Cathy June 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I have great admiration for anyone who can stick to a diet for 10 weeks even if it does allow bacon. Very enjoyable post.


Rita June 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I have wild Pacific salmon waiting for a great recipe and here it is. Thank you.


Tammy June 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm

How scrumptious! That salmon looks tempting! Great post! πŸ™‚
Happy Weekend!



kellypea June 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Wondering how you’re doing…hoping you’re fine. Just checking in.


Jess July 15, 2011 at 2:00 am

I was thinking lately about how I haven’t gotten to drool over any of your posts and recipes for a while – I hope everything’s ok!


Tiffany Youngren December 7, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Oh my … oh my … eating can’t be wrong when it’s this salmon. Yum!! Thanks for the yummy recipe!!



Joan@chocolateandmore January 12, 2012 at 12:58 pm

So nice to “meat” you, love your Paleo Challenge. Not sure I could give up all the sugar in my life but we do watch how much we intake. That sauce sounds incredible and will be trying soon.


Jay February 1, 2012 at 4:15 am

sounds amazingly tasty…excellent presentation..
Tasty Appetite


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