Mesquite Smoked Salmon with Jalapeño Mint Pesto
Mesquite wood chips
2 cups chopped basil
1 cup chopped mint
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 small lemon
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pound salmon fillet skin removed
Combine basil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest and lemon juice in a food processor or blender and pulse until coarsely chopped. A pestle may also be used, but if you’ve got those kind of skills, you’re probably not reading this recipe.
Add ¼ cup of the oil, the melted butter and Parmesan; process until well blended. Season with salt.
Add the remaining oil and pulse until smooth, adding a bit more oil if necessary. Place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to help the butter solidify.
Remove the fish from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Check on your fire. Make sure the grill is nice and hot so you can get a nice char on the bottom. You’ll be topping the fish with the pesto, so you won’t be flipping it. A nice high heat, then slowed down slow and smoky will result in a delicious charred bottom, perfectly moist center and buttery pesto top.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, spray the bottom of the salmon with cooking spray or rub with vegetable oil, then season both sides with salt. Spread about 4 tablespoons of pesto on top of the fillet. Brush and oil the grill.
Once the coals have ashed over and the grill is good and hot, lift the grill grate and sprinkle the wood chips evenly over the coals. Replace the grate and place the salmon, pesto side up, on the hot grill. Placing the salmon longways parallel with the grill lines makes removing it easier. Close the lid, making sure the top vents are closed, too. After about 8 minutes, give it a peek, but be careful, as the grill shall be quite voluminous with smoke; there should be no flames present. Vent the hood just a hair to ensure the coals stay hot, and replace the lid.
As the salmon cooks, it will turn from translucent orange to opaque pink. Cook for approximately 8 more minutes for medium rare.
Remove from grill, being careful to keep that delicious char on bottom intact.
Serve. Enjoy. Thank me.