Rachael Ray’s Salmon en Croute Recipe is a ‘Deceptively Easy’ Christmas Dish

Rachael Ray has a slew of holiday recipes, and she’s here to make your Christmas meal planning a little bit easier. The chef shared a salmon recipe that seems like it could be difficult to accomplish, but rest assured, the recipe is “deceptively easy,” according to her website.

Chef Rachael Ray | John Lamparski/Getty Images for NYCWFF
Chef Rachael Ray | John Lamparski/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Rachael Ray’s Salmon en Croute ingredients

“En croute” means to bake in pastry crust, and that’s exactly what you’re going to do with this salmon!

As she described on Rachael Ray, “They look so complicated and fancy, but they’re really, really easy. It’s a super fake-out.”

If you’re planning a Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner for Christmas Eve, or even if you’re sick of turkey and ham and want to change up your Christmas dinner entrée this year, this salmon with a spinach filling is a great fit. And don’t worry, you don’t have to make the puff pastry from scratch.

Here’s everything you’ll need to make it.

Spinach Filling Ingredients

  • 1 pound spinach, stemmed, or one 16-ounce package frozen spinach, defrosted 
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) 
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped 
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped 
  • A splash of white wine 
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup crème fraiche  or 4 ounces cream cheese 
  • ¼ cup freshly grated  Parmigiano-Reggiano  cheese 
  • ¼ cup toasted breadcrumbs

Salmon and Pastry Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (Rachael likes Dufour), defrosted in fridge 2 hours before rolling  
  • Flour, for puff pastry
  • Four 6-ounce skinless salmon filets
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1 egg

This recipe serves four people.

Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray | Adela Loconte/WireImage

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How to make Rachael Ray’s Salmon en Croute recipe

To start, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and place the rack in the center.

If you’re using fresh spinach, wash and stem the greens, and then bring a pot of water to a boil. Then you’ll need to place an ice water bath in a large bowl on the counter and place a strainer in the sink. Salt the boiling water, then add the spinach and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Strain the spinach, and then add it to the ice bath. Drain and wring out any excess liquid, and then chop.

If you’re using frozen spinach, once it’s defrosted, wring out any excess liquid, chop finely, and then loosen it up with your fingers.

Next, you’ll want to heat a skillet over medium heat with olive oil. Then add the shallots and garlic, and season with salt and white pepper. Add the wine, and let it absorb. Then you’ll add your spinach, nutmeg, lemon juice, crème fraiche or cream cheese, Parmesan, and bread crumbs, and combine. Remove from the heat to cool the filling.

Now, it’s time for the salmon. To start, combine butter, mustard, thyme, and dill. Roll out your puff pastry on a lightly floured flat surface to smooth seams, and then cut each sheet in half across to make rectangles. Place two rectangles each on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and make sure to sprinkle some flour on the sheet beforehand.

Now, season the salmon with salt and pepper, place one filet on each pastry rectangle, and top with 1/4 of the Dijon herb mix. Then turn the salmon over. Top this side of the fish with 1/4 of the spinach filling and gently place it with your hands. You’ll need an egg wash made of 2 teaspoons water and a fork-beaten egg to cover the pastry.

Brush the egg wash onto the pastry, and then fold the long sides of the rectangles to overlap in the middle (you can stretch the pastry a bit, if needed) to form a seam. Trim the ends and fold the rest of the pastry so it’s all sealed, and then turn the packets over and score the top in a crosshatch to vent and for style.

Brush the packets with your remaining egg wash. This will give it a golden brown color and help with its shine. And then, bake for 20 to 25 minutes. And just like that, you have pastry-wrapped salmon that takes less than an hour from start to finish.