À la recherche des herbes perdus


This year I had a very different Christmas.

For a start, I am in Reims, France, where I celebrated it with very dear old friends, Nelly, her husband Christophe, their son Ivan and Christophe’s parents who were visiting from Epernay.

We wanted to see the Christmas market in Alsace or Colmar but alas! it was not to be this year.

Instead we strolled down the local Christmas market at Place d’Erlon.


We had roasted chestnuts, vin chaud and even churros! I had last tasted them when I went to Miramar earlier this year so I was delighted.

In France, the big day is on the 24th December, Christmas Eve, just like in the other countries like Belgium, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, and indeed, Argentina.


For that day we cooked Gordon’s fantastic Salmon en croûte.

What convinced my friend Nelly of going along with it is that it is also fantastically simple. Gordon specifies fresh herbs such as dill and basil. Incredibly; they also proved to be fantastically elusive so we ended up compromising for a perfectly acceptable beurre a la maître d’hotel (butter with fresh chopped parsley and lemon juice as well as zest as per Gordon’s instructions).

We served it with sweet potato mash (made with both sweet potatoes and potatoes) and boiled green beans.


Salmon en croûte with herbed new potatoes and garlic sautéed broccoli – from Gordon Ramsay’s cookalong live

Serves 4


For the salmon en croûte:

  • approx 10g bunch of basil
  • approx 5g bunch dill
  • 60g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 x approx 1kg side of salmon, skinned, pin boned and cut in half
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • plain flour, to dust
  • 500g shortcrust pastry
  • 1 x egg
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper

For the new potatoes:

  • 750g small new potatoes
  • approx 10g bunch basil
  • approx 5g bunch dill

For the broccoli:

  • 1 large head of broccoli, or 2 smaller
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled

1. Preheat oven to 200°C/gas 6.

2. Dust a clean surface with flour and roll out the pastry using the salmon as a guide size. Leave to rest in a cool place.

3. Place the softened butter in a large bowl. Use scissors to roughly chop in the dill and basil before grating in the lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper and mix.

4. Pat the salmon fillets dry using kitchen paper and season with salt and pepper. Spread the butter mixture over one side of the fillet and the wholegrain mustard on the other. Sandwich the two salmon fillets together, in opposite directions so that both ends are of a similar thickness.

5. Beat 1 egg to make your egg wash. Place the salmon in the centre of the pastry and brush around it with the egg wash, season with salt and pepper. Bring up the longest pastry sides, trimming as much excess away as possible, and tuck them in before folding the shorter pastry edges over to form a neat parcel. Turn the whole thing over so that the seam is sitting on the bottom, and transfer to a non-stick baking tray. Brush with egg wash over the outside. Mark the pastry using the back of a small knife to make a cross hatch. Mark again to show 4 portions. Finally season the salmon parcel with salt and pepper.

6. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

7. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for approximately 12-15 minutes in salted water, until tender. Strain into a colander and leave to drain over the pot. Drizzle with olive oil, and chop in the extra dill and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

8. Cut the broccoli into florets, and cut any larger florets in half. Cook in a pan of boiling salted water for 3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain.

9. Sauté the broccoli in a dry pan for a minute. Crush in the garlic and add to the broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and sauté for a further minute.

10. Remove the salmon from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Use a serrated knife to cut into 4 portions and serve alongside the sautéed broccoli and herbed potatoes.


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