The poor, long suffering Food Critic. This week he had to wait until late in the evening Wednesday night to get his dinner simply because I had it fixed on my mind what I had to make. I hope it was worth it.

I’m not really into meat and potatoes but I am into the juxtaposition of sweet and salty or sweet and spicy. Here the honey mustard glaze on the salmon gets all caramelized (a little too caramelized, whoops) and is absolutely fantastic paired with the muted heat from the roasted poblano peppers in the potato gratin. Bonus: I dirtied exactly five things in my kitchen to make this meal: one knife, one chopping board, one broiler pan, one mortar & pestle (yes, that counts as one item) and one baking dish. That’s an efficient meal.

poblano potato gratin
salmon with honey mustard glaze (bonus: caraway seeds!)
both based on recipes from November’s Gourmet

Start on the potato gratin first as it takes longer to cook and prep. The potatoes can be sliced and the chiles roasted the day before.

Roast 1 lb poblano chiles either directly over a gas burner or on a broiler pan in the oven (checking often) until skins are black and blistered. I was in a hurry here, so rather than letting the roasted chiles sit in a covered bowl for 10 minutes, I skinned them immediately. If you choose to do so, be careful as they will be very hot! Use a pair of tongs to handle them so that you have at least one un-capsaicin contaminated hand with which to do fun things like take out your contact lenses later that evening without causing extreme agony. Skin, slit, stem, and devein. Cut into thin strips.

Cook 1 lb onions with some salt in a little vegetable oil until golden. Stir in most chiles, reserving 1/2 c for topping.

Peel 2 1/2 lb yukon gold potatos and slice into 1/4 in circles. Add to a heavy pot with 1 1/2 c heavy cream, 3/4 c milk, and 1 t salt. Bring to a boil, add onion and poblano mixture. Mixture should thicken. Bring oven to 400 degrees.

Pour potato mixture into a greased baking dish, top with reserved poblanos, and bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the salmon…

Isn’t it fun to get to use that mortar & pestle you keep up on that top shelf? Take a couple cloves of garlic and mash them up in there with equal parts dijon mustard and honey, a dash of cider vinegar, and a sprinkle of caraway seeds. When everything is good and crushed, spread the mixture on the flesh side of a fillet of salmon. 1 lb will do for 2 people, with leftovers. Heat up a broiler pan in the oven on broil, pop the salmon fillet on the pan and slip it in. Make sure the rack isn’t on the top shelf ‘cuz if your broiler is anything like mine it will burn long before it cooks through. Keep a close eye on the salmon for charring (or if you’re like me, a nose for smoking… whoops). This took about 8 minutes for me… In any case, this is delicious, even charred. Residual heat in the oven will do to cook through any thick parts of the fillet that may still be raw from the broil.