-Making ranch dressing for Aretha fucking Franklin. Like, are you kidding me? It was so cool… and she ate the salad. I was very excited. I was, like, peeking out of the kitchen, like, crept around. That was pretty dope.
♪♪ Hey, I am Adrienne Cheatham of the Sunday Best pop-up series here in New York, and today, we’re gonna make blackened salmon with a collard green salad, buttermilk vinaigrette, and some crunchy black-eyed peas.
So the first thing we’re gonna do is break down our salmon. We have a beautiful skin-on filet, and we’re just gonna clean that up, starting with the tail. Give yourself a little handle back here. Find the skin, and then from here, you’re just gonna hold your knife steady and move the skin back and forth.
Next thing you’re gonna do is clean off the blood line, so all this back here, that layer between the skin and the actual fish, we’re just going to trim off and clean it up. You want to get this off because it’s a little bit bitter, and it doesn’t look that nice when it cooks up.
It gets kind of, like, a muddy brown color, getting as close to the flesh as possible. Again, salmon is not cheap. You don’t want to lose it. I’m a huge fan of Southern cooking. My dad is from Jackson, Mississippi.
We spent every summer break, every spring break in carports in Mississippi. Working in fine dining, I started to see that Southern food didn’t really get a lot of respect, but it uses the exact same techniques as French, Italian.
It’s the original fucking farm-to-table organic seasonal cooking. Just gonna get the last of this blood line out of the center here, and then we’re gonna slice our portions. I like to go about an inch and a half to 2 inches wide on my portions.
Just think about your guests. If they eat a lot of food, cut them bigger. If they don’t, make them smaller. We’re gonna do kind of like a bootleg cure, so we have some paprika and a little bit of salt.
You want to get the salt and the paprika nice and blended, and then you’re just gonna season the fish all over. This is not the blackening spice, but this is just kind of a light cure minus the sugar that’s just really going to soak in and get our salmon extra delicious.
So normally when you’re curing, you have equal parts salt and sugar and then another flavoring agent, in this case paprika. We’re cutting out the sugar ’cause we don’t want to draw out too much moisture.
We just really want the salt to kind of work its way in. It will pull out a little bit of moisture. Safety first. We’re gonna refrigerate this. Don’t want to leave it at room temp because that’s just a little sketchy.
♪♪ Can rest on top of that beer. And while that salmon is in the fridge, 20 minutes up to 45 minutes, we’re going to knock out the other components that are going to be served with it. Next up, we’re gonna cook our black-eyed peas.
These are some of my favorites to cook. The only thing — You don’t have to soak them overnight, just want to make sure there are no rocks in them. Rocks are not delicious. We’re gonna put these in a pot of water.
You want to make sure that they’re covered by 2 to 3 inches because you don’t want them to dry out, and then some will be exposed on top, and they’ll cook unevenly. We’re gonna flavor them while they cook with a little bit of onion.
You don’t have to mince it or do anything, like, super exciting to it — just put it in. We’re gonna add a couple of bay leaves for a little familiar flavor, compliments the black-eyed peas nicely. One of my favorite ingredients ever — gumbo file.
What is gumbo file, you ask? It is ground-up sassafras leaves. If you know root beer, you know sassafras. We’re just gonna give it about 2 tablespoons just so that flavor can kind of work into them while they’re cooking, give it a little black pepper for some spice.
I’m just gonna stir this up a little bit while this comes to a boil, and we’re gonna let this cook, no salt. If you add salt too early, your beans will take longer to cook, so season them at the end just when they’re starting to get tender.
Let this come to a simmer, and cook for about 30 to 45 minutes. While it does that, you want your beans to be super tender. You want to be able to smoosh it on the board, but you do not want them to get to the point that they’re falling apart in the pot.
While our beans are coming up to a boil, we’re gonna get our collard greens ready for the salad. You’re used to cooking collard greens. I was, too, but raw collard greens are actually really fucking delicious.
They have crunch. Kale can’t hold on forever, guys. It’s actually healthier than kale, has more texture in a good way, and, I mean, they’re collard greens. Come on. They’re the OG of leafy hard greens.
So what we’re going to do is take about four to five leaves. Roll them up. Make them nice and tight, and then you’re going to do a chiffonade. It’s, essentially, just slicing them really, really thin.
Because the greens are a little tough, you want to cut them really thinly so that they soften up when we marinate them. I’m okay with leaving the stems on. I like the crunch and texture. Don’t worry if it looks like a lot.
It’s gonna shrink a little bit. One of my favorite kitchen tools — Microplane. So we’re going to get a little bit of the zest. We’re going to give it the juice, also. Just try to strain out the seeds through your hands.
We’ve seasoned it with a little bit of salt and lemon juice and the lemon zest. Take out your frustration a little bit on the collard greens. You really want the acid and the seasoning to kind of break the leaves down a little bit and help them get a little tender.
It’s kind of like making coleslaw. You know how you season the cabbage and everything, and then it starts to, like, pull some of the liquid out? That’s exactly what we’re doing here. You know you got it right when the leaves are starting to look a little shiny and get a darker green color.
Really, really pretty if you ask me. If you don’t like collard greens, there’s something wrong. So now while this is sitting and kind of macerating, we’re going to make an emulsified vinaigrette. That means that the oil and the liquid, being the vinegar in this case, are suspended.
The little molecules are just broken up, and they’re fully suspended, and they can’t separate even if they wanted to. So here, we have a little bit of Dijon mustard and buttermilk. Dijon is a natural emulsifier.
Buttermilk is delicious. It’s gonna bring a little bit of tanginess, and it also will help keep this emulsified. Little bit of white wine vinegar, and we’re gonna use a tiny bit of shallot. We’ll just get a couple of slices.
It can be a little strong if you use too much onion. It is raw, so you don’t want that flavor to grow too much. You just kind of want to control it. We’ll start with a little bit of salt and a little bit of pepper.
Now the fun part — emulsification. So while the blades are turning, you want to slowly start to drizzle in your oils. We’re going to use about a cup of grape-seed oil. Grape-seed oil is more neutral flavored, kind of like canola oil.
If you’ve got canola, you can use that, too. The oil is gonna make it thicker so it’s not, like, super-duper liquidy, and it’ll actually cling to the collard green leaves. Extra virgin olive oil, about 1/2 cup, so you want to drizzle the oil in slowly.
If you go too fast, it’ll break. You can start to turn the speed up a little. [ Whirring intensifies ] [ Whirring stops ] Mm-kay. We are going to add our herbs, and for this buttermilk vinaigrette, we’re going to be using dill, tarragon, chives.
So, we’ll use a little bit of dill. If the tarragon has thick stems, just pull the leaves off. Dill stems are totally fine, and chi-ves, also known as chives. So we’re adding these last because we really want them to not be completely pureed.
You’ll see a little bit of the herbs. You’ll still get the flavor in them, but if we had the herbs in the whole time, they would be super pureed, and it would just be, like, a green vinaigrette, and then we’ll just set this aside.
If you don’t cook beans with flavorings, they’ll just be super bland, so you have to cook them with some aromatics to really work their way into the beans while they’re cooking, and the gumbo file is just gonna give it some nice flavor.
About 20, 25 minutes into the cooking, you can go ahead and add salt. That’s gonna give your beans some seasoning besides the aromatic flavors. Let it cook for another 5, 10 minutes, and just soak up that salt, but you’ll have some delicious beans that you can eat on their own, or you can do something even more awesome with, like turn them into croutons, and then we’ll get them laid out and seasoned and crisp them up.
Mm-kay. So our beans are cooked… seasoned, strained. Now we’re going to add a little bit of canola oil, a little bit paprika. I like smoked paprika. You can use hot smoked or sweet smoked. Whatever, up to you, but it gives it a nice smoky flavor, a little bit of garlic powder.
Who doesn’t like a little bit of Creole seasoning? So we’re just gonna toss the beans to get the seasoning all over them. When you bake them in the oven, it will kind of intensify the flavor, so don’t make them too salty now.
If they’re seasoned nicely, they’ll be where you want them when they’re finished. I like to use these because nowadays, you have so many people that are gluten-free that when you’re making salads and snacks, you still want something crunchy, like, that texture is so awesome and satisfying, so this is a great substitute to use on salads, because you still get that texture.
You still get that crunch that you would from croutons, but then you don’t have to worry about gluten. Just gonna lay them out in a flat layer. I like to bake them. They get super crispy, and you cut out a lot of the oil, so now we’re just gonna pop these into the oven.
♪♪ Start them on 400. In about 10 minutes, we’ll lower it to 350 and then let them go from there until they’re super crispy and dry and, like, crunchy as hell. Now we’re gonna get our fish seared.
This has had some time to really, really soak up that seasoning, so we’re not going to re-season it, because we already put enough salt on it to start. We’re just gonna go ahead with our blackened seasoning.
You can buy this, or you can make it. I like to make my own because sometimes the store-bought just has a fuck-ton of salt. It’s pretty much paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme or Italian spice blend.
Use it judiciously if you buy it, but if you’ve got a nice low-salt kind, you can go ham. And blackening, what you’re really doing is just charring the spices. Sometimes, there’s a little bit of sugar in store-bought blackened spicing mix, so you’re getting a really deep, hard sear on the actual seasoning itself but not leaving it in the pan long enough to cook the fish.
To cook the fish, we’re going to finish it in the oven. Blackening is not sauteing. You do not need a ton of oil because you’re not going for even browning like you do when you’re sauteing, so what we’re going to do is just add a little bit of canola oil, or if you have leftover grape-seed, you can use that, just something with a high smoke point.
Don’t go medium heat. Go, like, high heat. Get yourself set up because you’re gonna have to move quickly. We have our tray that we’re gonna put our fish on. We don’t want it to stick, so we’ll just give it a little bit of oil here.
Our pan is nice and wicked hot. Shake off some of the excess and just go face-down with your filet portions. Mm-hmm. Smells like home. If you want to take a sneak peek, see if it’s where you want it to be, good to go, pull it out.
Always pull out. [ Chuckles ] Couldn’t help myself. And same as sauteing on this part, don’t crowd your pan. You don’t want that steam that it’s creating from the bottom to cook through the salmon. Nice, portion deux.
This guy went in last, so we’ll just make sure it’s even. Now that is blackening. Blackened salmon is not something you’ll really see in the South. You’ll more frequently see blackened catfish. Something that has a creamy texture is great.
Salmon is really good because it has a high fat content, so it really works well to me with the smoky and spicy flavor, and, again, you just need a few seconds if your pan is nice and hot, and you’re good to go.
So we’re just gonna pop these in the oven and let them finish cooking. Our oven is set 400. ♪♪ 5 to 7 minutes, depending on thickness, and you’re good to go. While that’s in this oven cooking, we’re gonna finish the salad.
Drizzle a little bit of our buttermilk vinaigrette. One of my favorite cheeses, ricotta solatta. It is a dry kind-of-salty cheese. You don’t see it a lot here, but you do see it a lot in Italian cooking, and it goes so well with collard greens.
It’s okay if the cheese breaks up. That way, you get it distributed evenly. Oh, god. I hate it. Trying to pretend like I don’t get my hands in when I cook, but I like to touch my food and feel it because then you can feel if your salad is overdressed, underdressed.
These guys, we’re gonna mix a few in now. We’re gonna see how crunchy they are. [ Black-eyed peas crunching ] Can you hear that? Oh, my God. They’re like crisp little shards of black-eyed pea goodness.
Again, this recipe is for about four people, but you can use it for two or one. I’ve definitely done this salad just for me and crushed a whole bowl of it. Let’s give it a little more cheese on top, sprinkle of our black-eyed peas.
This may not be traditional Southern, but everything about this screams “Southern.” ♪♪ Nice. Mm-kay. So, great. Our fish looks like it’s ready. There’s some white stuff that starts to come out. That’s albumen.
It’s essentially just, like, protein from the fish. We’re gonna use a cake tester. You just want to leave it in for, like, a second or two, And it’s nice and warm. It’s not hot. If it were hot, it would be overdone, but it’s warm.
That means we’re good to go. So we’re gonna get our piece of blackened salmon, just nestle it right in there. You got a little extra vinaigrette. Just going to put a little bit next to it. It’s kind of like buttermilk but a little more herby, and it’s just delicious, so why not give yourself a little bit extra? And you are good to go.
Now we’re gonna try it — salad first, eat your greens. Collard greens is the best. Mmm. That is a damn salad. The salt and lemon give it that acidity, and it helps soften up the greens a little bit, and then the vinaigrette is, like, nice and herby.
The ricotta solatta gives you a little bit of texture and creaminess, and those crispy black-eyed peas are, like, the best shit ever. Mmm. The salmon, you get, like, a little bit of smokiness and spice and a little bit of texture from the crust on the blackened seasoning, and it’s just so damn good with that buttermilk vinaigrette, brings some tanginess and some herbal flavors, and it is, like, ugh, so good.
This shit is like a match made in heaven. For the recipe for this dish, click the link in the description below. You guys can turn the cameras off because I am gonna house this shit. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪