Home cook and content creator, Dom Horan (more commonly known online as The Curly Home Cook), reveals all when it comes to knocking up a Christmas crowd-pleaser. Listen up and take note, as you could be the favourite in the family at Christmas with this festive recipe!

Credit: @thecurlyhomecook

Christmas. A time for everybody to come together, sit around a table and eat. Presents? They get worse each year. Family? Too much noise. Carols? Don’t get me started. But, food? This is the true meaning of Christmas. A time where I can swell an inch or two with none of the shame that I carry from continuing to do so for the other 11 months of the year.

Being the cook in the family means carrying the weight of the holidays – pressure to deliver a better meal than the year before, compounding every year. Nevertheless, an opportunity to show love in the only way we know how – through food.

Christmas is one of the rare times of the year that everybody knows what they’re going to eat, and still love it. Everybody has their own way of making Christmas dinner, with family secrets trickling down over generations and new tips and tricks emerging all the time. I’m not here to mess with that.

This is a sharing dish – a perfect centerpiece for the table on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day. I love to eat communally – there’s something so much more intimate in everyone serving themselves from the same dish, hands flying everywhere, than each having a plated meal to themselves. This can be eaten as a main, or can easily feature in a large spread.

We have always eaten salmon around Christmas in my house – often smoked. I’ve chosen salmon for this recipe because I see it as a real treat, and the things it’s served with remind me of winter and the holidays. It also makes a grand centerpiece, bold in both colour and size.

The leftovers are extremely versatile – you can flake them into pasta, salads, sandwiches – or even make a salmon paté by whisking with some of the horseradish cream and some chopped dill.

This dish can be served hot or cold, but I prefer cold (this also means that you can prep in advance).

Baked side of salmon with lemon, dill and horseradish cream

Credit: @thecurlyhomecook

Recipe

Serves: 6-8

Time: 1hr (<15 minutes active)

  • Prep: 25 minutes
  • Cook: 30-35 minutes

Ingredients

– 1.2kg side of salmon 

– 100g table salt

– 100g sugar

– 1 tablespoon lemon zest

– 1 tablespoon fresh dill

Horseradish cream

– 25g horseradish sauce

– 100g crème fraîche

– 50g double cream

– Salt & pepper to taste

To Serve

– Sourdough bread

– Red onion

– Capers

– Lemon

Method

Cure 

In a bowl, mix the table salt, sugar, lemon zest and dill. Make a layer of the cure in a tray, using around half. Lay the salmon across it and press lightly to adhere. Cover the other side with the remaining cure, rubbing it in and ensuring that every inch of the salmon is covered. If you are using the tail end, use slightly less of the salt/sugar mix on the thinner end as it will take less time to cure. Refrigerate for 25 minutes.

Once done, remove the salmon and rinse off the cure thoroughly. I find it best to do this in a deep roasting tray filled with water – this avoids the cross-contamination of tap water splashing from the salmon onto other things. Remove and pat dry with kitchen roll. 

Cook

Measure a piece of foil twice the length of your salmon. Lay across a roasting/baking tray large enough for it to fit into. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil onto the foil and place 6 round slices of lemon at the bottom, with even spacing. Lay the salmon across the lemon slices to elevate it and place 6 more lemon rounds on top. Feel free to add dill, either chopped or sprigs at this stage. Take the excess foil and fold over to the center, sealing the edges together to create a tent.

Cook at 180⁰C for 30-35 minutes, or until the thickest part reads 63⁰C on a probe thermometer. It will vary based on the thickness of your fillet. Take out and leave to cool, then place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes or up to a day in advance.

For the horseradish cream, whip the 50g of double cream until thickened, but not forming peaks. Mix in 100g of crème fraîche along with around 50g horseradish sauce. Adjust the amount of horseradish to taste and season with salt and pepper.

Credit: @thecurlyhomecook

Serve

Lay the salmon across a large plate. Place in the center of the table, shout ‘bon appetit!’ and grab a fistful before anyone else can even think about reaching for cutlery!

My favourite way to serve

I like to eat this with good, toasted bread, thinly sliced red onion, capers and lemon. Flake some salmon from the plate and toast your bread. Spread a generous layer of the horseradish cream, add pea shoots or other salad, and add a large heap of salmon. Top with red onion slices and capers and drown in lemon juice. Season, and enjoy!

To keep up with Dom’s dining delicacies, visit his Instagram page @thecurlyhomecook

Author WCS

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