04 July 2011

4 July - Independence Day; Poached Salmon with Egg Sauce

Independence Day!  Remember Bunker Hill!  Remember Cowpens!  Remember Yorktown!

But first, a prayer:

We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.

We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope Benedict, the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.

We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.

Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen. Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore, 1791.
Now, to the celebration!

Everyone has their own traditions - attending parades, backyard barbecues, picnic lunches and dinners in the nearest park, local concerts, and watching the fireworks displays.   And the culinary feasts of the day are limited only by imagination.

So feast on Poached Salmon with Egg Sauce and new peas (traditional New England fare), or a clam boil, or barbecue (backyard or Southern).  Or set up a menu with dishes from all parts of our great country.

For one Independence Day barbecue in our yard, each family brought a dish representative of the region from which they originally hailed (military families come from all over, as you know). So among the hot dogs and hamburgers and chips and dips, we had planked salmon (Pacific Northwest), Peach Pie (South), Tamales (Southwest), Fruit and Nut Salad (trust me, that was California), Cowboy Beans (Mountain states), Polish Babka (Midwest) and Blueberry Buckle (Northeast).  A few more families, and we could have covered the rest of the United States.

Wash it all down with regional beers (or regional spring waters, if you are so inclined) and coffee (no tea!)


Wrap a washed, cleaned whole salmon (or a large piece of salmon from the center) in a piece of cheesecloth, leaving long ends for handles to remove the fish.

In a large pot, put 2 - 3 quarts of water, a bay leaf, 3 to 4 peppercorns, and a lemon slice or two.  Bring to a boil and boil for at least 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to simmering and carefully place the fish in the simmering water, taking care to have the ends of the cloth extending outside the pot.  Bring the liquid to boil again, then again reduce it to a very slow simmer (bubbles barely breaking the surface).  Cook for about 1/2 hour, or roughly 6 to 8 minutes per pound.  The fish is cooked when it flakes easily (check it after 25 minutes - you don't want to overcook the fish).

Meanwhile, make the EGG SAUCE: thinly slice 2 small onions and coarsely chop 2 hard-boiled eggs.  In a saucepan combine 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of cream, add the onion slices, 1/2 of a bay leaf and 1 whole clove, and heat until a film forms on top.  Skim the surface.

In another saucepan, over very low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and stir in 3 tablespoons of flour, cooking and stirring until it is smooth and bubbly.  Pour in the scalded milk and continue cooking and stirring over low heat until it bubbles.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.  Strain the mixture through a sieve into a saucepan, add the chopped eggs, and heat through.  Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.

When the salmon is done, lift it from the broth (using the cheesecloth handles) and remove the cheesecloth.  Place the fish on a warm platter and carefully skin.  Serve with Egg Sauce, boiled new potatoes, and boiled new peas.