Salmon over Creamy Leeks with Red Wine Butter

Salmon over Creamy Leeks with Red Wine Butter

Salmon over Creamy Leeks with Red Wine Butter was the main course at our Spirited Gourmet Gathering. Read on for this indulgent recipe and remember to Like, Comment and Share!

Salmon over Creamy Leeks with Red Wine Butter

This main course was the initial inspiration for our Spirited Gourmet Gathering. As we have done in the past, Mike and I decided to first give the recipe a trial run. This is a practice we learned from our friend and fellow Gourmet Club member, Susan. A trial run is the concept of cooking the recipe before the dinner party. This helps determine the level of difficulty and whether it’s a worthy recipe. We have found some recipes need too much tweaking, or are just too fussy to allow the cook to enjoy the party. This one passed the test!

Does the Wine Matter?

Mike picked up a random inexpensive bottle of Merlot called The Velvet Devil for the trial run. The recipe was a hit, but Mike thought we should use a different bottle of Merlot to photograph with the dish. His thinking was that we needed to use a “bottle double” (more familiar Merlot), that people could easily find. The truth of the matter, is that the specific vineyard doesn’t matter for this recipe. That is because the wine is being reduced to 1 tablespoon to flavor the butter. It would matter more if the wine made up the majority of the sauce being served over the food. For this recipe, just pick an inexpensive (but drinkable) red wine, which is more fruity and lower in tannin, such as a Merlot or Pinot Noir.

We also used a cream sherry for the creamy leeks, instead of the vermouth that was recommended in the recipe. We didn’t have vermouth on hand and didn’t want to invest in a bottle we probably wouldn’t ever use again. The sherry actually worked quite well in the sauce, so feel free to to use whichever of these options works best for you.

Smashed vs. Mashed – a Potato Preference

We served the creamy leeks and salmon over smashed red potatoes to round out the main course. I have always been more of a creamy mashed potato girl myself. Mike, however, likes nice chunky smashed potatoes. Low and behold, Brian also prefers smashed – two happy gourmet club campers scored a win in the great potato preference! Just boil up a 3 lb. bag of small (not baby) red potatoes until fork tender, drain, add whole milk, a generous amount of butter (we’re dairy lovers at our house) and lots of salt & pepper. Then smash the potatoes to your preferred level of chunkiness.

Salmon with Creamy Leaks and Red Wine Butter

Serving Size: Serves 4


  • 1 cup red wine (I recommend a softer, fruitier wine like merlot or pinot noir)
  • 2 shallots (1 coarsely chopped and 1 minced)
  • 8 tbsp softened unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley, divided
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and julienned (see prep instructions)
  • 1/2 tbsp finely chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp crushed fennel seed (or ground in spice grinder)
  • 1/3 c. sherry (I used cream sherry, but any sherry or dry vermouth can be used)
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 (6-8 oz) salmon fillets (can purchase skinless or remove skin after cooking)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic


  • Combine red wine and coarsely chopped shallots in a small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium high and reduce wine to 1 tbsp, about 13-15 minutes. Drain the wine through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard the shallots. Let wine cool. Add 6 tbsp softened butter and 2 tbsp chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Stir with fork until well combined. Transfer red wine butter to a sheet of plastic wrap and roll tightly into a 1" cylinder about 5" long. Twist ends of plastic to seal tightly. Chill until firm. The red wine butter may be made and refrigerated up to a week in advance. Set butter out to soften for 30 minutes before using.
  • If using plank grilling method: Soak cedar plank according to directions provided with packaging.
  • Note: to julienne leeks, cut white and light green section into approximately 2" long sections. Then thinly slice these sections into thin julienne strips.The result is similar to making a thinly sliced red pepper strip.
  • Heat remaining 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the leeks, thyme, fennel seed and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the sherry or vermouth and cook covered, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cream and lemon juice and cook covered, stirring occasionally, until leeks are soft and cream has thickened, about 25 minutes. Add a little water if the cream becomes too thick. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Keep leeks warm, covered, over low heat.
  • If using plank grilling method for salmon: preheat grill to 425-450 degrees. Arrange salmon on plank. In small bowl, combine the minced shallot, olive oil and garlic. Rub salmon with the mixture and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill salmon on plank for 15-20 minutes, or until it just starts to flake but is still moist, depending on thickness of salmon. Remove salmon on plank from grill. If your salmon still has the skin, flip it over and slice off the skin with sharp knife.
  • If using oven method for cooking salmon: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare salmon with shallot mixture as described above in grilling method, Roast prepared salmon in oven about 12-15 for medium rare and about 18-20 minutes for medium (cooking times vary based on thickness of your salmon.)
  • To serve, spoon some of the creamy leeks onto center of diner plates. Place salmon on top of leeks. Cut slices of red wine butter and place on top of salmon fillets. Garnish with remaining parsley.
  • Note - If serving with smashed potatoes, spoon potatoes onto plate first. Spread into a thin layer. Then top with creamy leeks, salmon and red wine butter slices. Enjoy!


Adapted from Saveur May 7 2008 Slow-cooked Salmon with Creamy Leeks and Red Wine Butter recipe.


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