Sunday Reader: Bourbon Apricot Glazed Salmon With Sweet Heat Cabbage

PSA: Days of the week don’t matter at the moment, and I’m going to spend some of my time (and this platform) sharing a bit more non-political content than usual that we normally save for weekends.

When I started this public version of my cooking journey with a battle over pork tenderloin recipes, I got the following comment from TDubs:

Back in the day David Allen Coe said someone claimed to have written the perfect country song. DAC pointed out that the song didn’t mention Momma, trains, prison, trucks or gettin’ drunk. Mangos and spiced rum are close but you haven’t mentioned bourbon or apricot preserves or garlic. So the jury is still out.

It got me thinking about some excellent fish dishes I’ve enjoyed in Savannah and Charleston, and reminded me that I had toyed around with similar for salmon. This motivated me to try again.

Garlic was initially the curve-ball, but garlic makes almost everything better. The trick is making it a complement, rather than to overpower the dish and/or the diner. Apricot preserves and garlic? This calls for some sweet heat.

This meal can be done start to finish in under 30 minutes (as I just did that). And…it works. It really, really works.

Tonight, we’re making oven broiled salmon with a bourbon apricot glaze, and we’re pairing it with a purple cabbage sautéed in butter, brown sugar, and chili oil. (There’s also some mashed cauliflower that was re-heated, but it could be made start to finish while the salmon is cooking.)

Let’s start with the salmon.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Spray an oven safe dish with Pam or equivalent, and place fish in where the pieces aren’t touching. Give a generous coating of garlic powder (NOT garlic salt), then a lighter dusting of chili powder, and rub enough dark brown sugar over the mix to create a rub.

You want just enough sugar to thinly coat the top of the fish while mixing in and holding the garlic and chili powder. The glaze will come later. The initial time in the oven will allow for the salmon to barely caramelize a sweet heat almost crispy layer to host the glaze you’re about to make.

Put the salmon in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your cabbage. Quarter it, remove the core, and then finely shred into “larger than cole slaw” pieces. Eating for one, I only used 1/4 for this trial run as pictured.

Now we’re going to start the apricot bourbon glaze and sauté the cabbage, side by side. Start with some butter for each in a small (glaze) and medium (cabbage) skillet.

Add about 1/2 of an 18 oz jar of Apricot preserves to the smaller skillet over medium heat.

Begin melting the butter over med-high heat in the larger skillet as well. Add a…generous amount of brown sugar. I don’t measure. Thought I had used too much in the next pic, but it was about right, if maybe just a tad bit heavy.

Add your chopped cabbage and continue to stir over medium high heat, remembering to also keep stirring your apricot glaze at it begins to bubble.

Once the cabbage has absorbed the brown sugar butter mixture, add about two teaspoons of chili oil. It’s the heat to complement the brown sugar sweet, similar to the salmon. Continue to stir.

When the apricot glaze is good and bubbly, add about a shot of bourbon. Light it to burn the alcohol off quicker, but also to again caramelize some of the sugars.

At the 10-12 minute mark, remove your salmon from the oven.

Pour the glaze over the salmon, and return it to the oven for 5-7 minutes. Remove and let cool briefly before plating.

You’re now ready to eat. Plate your salmon and then your cabbage. If you want a mashed cauliflower recipe, basically boil, drain, and mash frozen (or fresh) cauliflower. Melt some butter, cheese (in the above I used both pepper jack and sharp cheddar), sour cream, and for fun I threw in some mild salsa verde. Your cauliflower is just a vehicle and base. Your flavors have to come elsewhere. Make sure you choose those carefully, but have fun mixing different tastes and textures in.

I’ve got to say, this may not be TDubs’ perfect country and western song er, recipe, but for a mix of sweet and heat and just a touch of unique, this definitely hit the spot. Enjoy!

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