Posted in Being Healthy, Cooking

Salmon Croquettes, a southern classic

Go to any traditional southern brunch location (like Rick’s in Greenwood, SC), and you’ll find salmon croquettes on the menu: a delicious salmon cake deep fried and served over grits.

You see, most folks only hear about shrimp and grits as the classic Charleston breakfast (or any other time) dish, but salmon and grits is far more common and delicious. The restaurants don’t bother to “put their own spin” on salmon and grits like they do with shrimp (usually ruining a simple shrimp and gravy dish).

Plus, this is one of my grandmother’s classics, a special dinner treat, usually when it’s just us girls. So as I make these little fish cakes tonight, I will set aside a couple to take to her to enjoy.

The Menu: Salmon Croquettes, Dijon Roasted New Potatoes, Braised Spinach

First, I’ll get the potatoes ready and in the oven. The Dijon Roasted New Potatoes is a recipe right out of the Weight Watchers Weekly this week, but for those who don’t participate, here it is:

  • Quarter or halve 1.5 lb new potatoes; we leave the skin on, but that is up to you.
  • Whisk together 2T Dijon mustard, 1t olive oil, 3/4 t paprika, 1/2t salt, 1/4t thyme (I use more cuz I love it!), 1/4t pepper; toss the potatoes in this dressing.
  • Bake at 425 for 15 minutes; then stir them well and bake for 15-20 minutes more until they are tender (stick ’em with a fork!).
  • Tip: if they aren’t crispy enough for you, spray them with a little cooking spray and put them back in for a couple of minutes.

Makes 4 1.25 cup servings at 4 PointsPlus each.

With the potatoes in the oven, it’s time to mix up and form the Salmon Croquettes. Here’s how it goes, with attention to getting the mixture to hold together rather than exact measurements:

  • 2-3 cans of salmon, drained (about 1 lb)
  • 1/3 cup of cornmeal (for coating only; for GF, substitute rice flour)
  • pinch of baking powder
  • 1 egg, beaten before you pour it into mixture (yes, that is important when you use egg as binding)
  • 1/2 cup very finely diced onion
  • 1T Worchestershire sauce (make your own GF/CF/SF with this recipe)
  • 1T lemon juice
  • splash of Tobasco sauce
  • salt and pepper, as you like it
The main ingredients: salmon and onion

Mix this all together with your hands; yes, that is an essential part of making these. You can’t know if the mixture is at the right consistency if you can’t feel it. The mixture will be “tacky” when you make a ball in your hand, but will not actually stick. It’s also very important that when you roll it into a ball and then flatten it into a patty that the “stuff” sticks together easily, without you having to push it back together. If it’s too loose (wet) or to thick (dry),  it will all fall apart in the skillet and just become salmon hash, sort of.

When you’ve got your mixture just right (with a slight, wet squishing sound when you squeeze it into a ball), form eight 4 oz patties; if you’re not actually weighing these, this will be about a small 2-inch ball of mixture in your palm. Roll the mixture into a ball and then flatten the ball into a patty, lightly patting the edges into shape if needed.

Dust each patty in cornmeal, very lightly. This is optional as some don’t like the gritty coating. An alternative for helping them not stick to the skillet is to dust them with rice flour, which will not create a coating like regular wheat flour does.

Smoking away in a cast iron skillet

Now the original recipe calls for deep frying, which is wonderful and delicious and easy, but completely unnecessary. Just spray a skillet with cooking spray to prevent smoking and cook the patties over medium high heat for about 4 minutes on each side. Since the salmon is already cooked, you are focused on cooking the egg and the onions and heating the whole patty through for great flavor. You may also choose to bake the patties on a cookie sheet at 350 for 20 minutes.

As I put on the patties to cook in the skillet, I’ll start the final dish of Braised Spinach. For this, you’ll need

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or diced or sliced
  • 1 red onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 large bag of spinach, baby or regular as you like
  • really good balsamic vinegar (should be sweet and syrupy)*
Braising the spinach…don’t stir!!!

Heat the garlic on medium in just a touch of oil (or use cooking spray); raise the heat to medium high and cook the red onions until soft and lighly carmelized. Pack the spinach into the pan, salt and pepper the pan, shove on a tight lid, and shut off the heat; this will wilt the spinach, and takes just about 3 minutes. Remove the lid, stir just a little to toss everything together and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

 

Weight Watchers PointsPlus:

  • Salmon Croquettes (makes 8) = 2 points each
  • Dijon Roasted New Potatoes (makes 4 servings) = 4 points per serving
  • Braised Spinach (makes as many or few servings as you like) = 0 points