Ingredients

1 whole Atlantic salmon, cleaned and without scales
1 fresh lemon, sliced
1 whole red onion, sliced
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
1 cup white wine
1 cup Lemon Dill Sauce
2 cucumbers
2 whole fresh lemons, for garnish

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Rinse the cavity of the fish and separate the head and the tail.
3. Coat a large roasting pan with oil and place all three pieces of the fish into the pan.
4. Lay lemon slices and onion slices in the cavity. Salt and pepper. Spray outside body of the salmon with oil. Add wine and cover with foil. Be sure it is air tight so that the steam will not escape.
5. Bake in oven for about 1 and ½ hours, until the flesh is loose when a knife is inserted.
6. When fish is cooled, remove skin and the congealed fat along the side of the filet.
7. Lift the salmon filet off the bone and put onto a platter. Remove spine and as many bones as you can find by feeling with your fingers.
8. Taking a long platter, place the head on one end and the tail on the other. Form the salmon flesh into the shape of the fish body from tail to head.
9. Lightly cover the salmon flesh from the head to the tail with the Lemon Dill Sauce.
10. Slice the cucumbers into thin slices so that they will bend along the contours of the fish body.
11. Starting from the tail, lay out the cucumber slices until the entire side of the fish is covered with the “cucumber scales.”
12. Garnish by lining the bottom of the plate with half-slices of lemon.

You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate. You can also cook the fish the day before and assemble the rest on the day of the party. If desired, you can use the leftover bones, fat and fish to make a stock for salmon chowder or other seafood soup.

Recipe courtesy of Julie Geary, Classic Cooks Catering, 2011.

When it comes to food, Independence Day is commonly associated with barbeques, picnics, strawberry shortcake, beer and all the hot dogs you can eat! But is there more to it than that? Is there a traditional Fourth of July meal? Many consider poached salmon, fresh peas and strawberry shortcake to be the traditional meal - and it all probably goes back to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It seems that the Fair, along with the introduction of the Ford Mustang, hosted a restaurant designed to introduce people to typical American food. The restaurant, called the Festival/64 Restaurant, served historically inspired menus from early America, such as a diner with Thomas Jefferson. According to the New York Times story about the Fair’s July 4th celebrations, the Festival/64 Restaurant “came up with a meal served by John and Abigail Adams at their home on July 4, 1776.”

Well it turns out that the dinner was impossible because they were in different cities on that day, but the legend persists. What we do know is that the foods in the meal would have been very popular at that time, when salmon would have been readily available along the shores and rivers on New England. This meal is Julie Geary of Classic Cooks version of that “typical 18th century salmon dinner,” including a red, white and blue dessert.

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Poaching the salmon can be done well ahead, even the day before if you refrigerate it, and dressed at that time or a short time before the party or dinner. There are a few steps involved with this recipe, but the results are very impressive and delicious as well.

First you want to cut off the head and tail; poach the entire fish in the oven; and, after allowing it to cool, remove the skin, excess fat and as many bones as possible.

From here you want to create the presentation. On a long, narrow serving platter (Julie uses an actual fish platter), recreate the shape of the salmon using the head and the tail that have also been poached. Once you have the general shape of the fish, spread some of the Lemon Dill Dressing over the flesh and cover with thinly sliced cucumbers (sliced thin so they will bend), arranging them in an overlapping pattern from tail to head to simulate “scales.” Keep covered and chilled and serve with more of the Lemon Dill Dressing.

Even if John and Abigail Adams did not share this on the first Fourth of July, salmon was a common and very popular dish of the times. Even today, not only will this be a dramatic presentation but also a delicious party food that your guests will enjoy.

Whole Poached Salmon
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