My plan was foiled …

Salmon in foil_7

A few weeks ago I went into a cleaning frenzy, and before I knew it, I had doused my entire oven in CLR. CLR is not exactly non-toxic, as you may know.

I realized what I’d done almost immediately and began furiously wiping down the oven with cold water. An hour of scrubbing, several frantic Google searches, one call to my mother and one email to Jelmar (the makers of CLR) later, the oven still smelled of CLR and I wasn’t sure if it would ever be safe to cook in again.

In the end I may have overreacted a bit—Googled turned up several forums with people who’ve cleaned cast-iron skillets with CLR, and the helpful folks at Jelmar informed me that CLR Kitchen & Bath (the product I used) is indeed safe for ovens.

Before the ordeal was over, however, I’d thrown out an entire batch of mojo de ajo–convinced it was tainted with toxic chemicals that might poison Dave, resulting in his death and the scandalous accusation that I’d planned it all along.

What can I say? I have a very vivid imagination.

In the end, I decided to go ahead with my meal, with a few improvisations that didn’t involve using the oven.

Salmon in foil

Recipe adapted from Rick Bayless

You’ll need:

1 salmon filet

1/8- 1/4 cup mojo de ajo

1/4 cup sliced onion

2-4 red potatoes

salt and fresh ground pepper

any combination of parsley, cilantro and/or chives

aluminum foil

banana leaves (optional)

This was the recipe that Rick demoed at Rachel Ray’s Big Block Party. And while I’m not a huge fan of salmon, this was a fantastic and easy way to prepare it. I even found myself stealing bites of Dave’s. Plus, fresh, never frozen salmon was on sale at Andy’s for $5 a pound.

First, cook your potatoes in boiling water and cook the onions in a skillet with a little olive oil.

To prepare the salmon package, lay out a large piece of foil (I doubled up with two) and a banana leaf on top of the foil. Lay the salmon, skin-side down on the banana leaf and cover it with the other ingredients. If you aren’t using a banana leaf, lay the ingredients directly on the foil.

Salmon in foil_2

Bundle the contents in the banana leaf, like a burrito, and secure it closed with another banana leaf around the middle. Don’t worry too much about this—the foil will keep it all together.

Salmon in Foil_3

Wrap the sides that are parallel to the “burrito” shape around the banana leaf and then roll the open ends up to secure the foil package. This will also seal the open ends of the banana leaf.

Salmon in Foil_4

You can cook this on the grill, in a 375-degree oven, or as I can attest to, in a pan on the stove top.

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Cook for about 8-10 minutes, flipping once. The fish should be pink and flake off easily when it’s done. Open the foil and banana leaf and squeeze a lime on the salmon.

Salmon in foil_6

Salmon in foil_8

A tribute to Rick Bayless

Image from

Image from

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Rick Bayless is officially my new favorite celebrity chef. Sorry Paula. I love you too, it’s just that Rick has really won me over during his rise to the finale, and subsequent win on Top Chef Masters.

Is it just me, or does he truly seem like one of the nicest, most sincere and passionate people you could ever want as a culinary idol? Of course this would mean nothing if his food wasn’t PHENOMENAL.

Image from

Image from

Joe’s wins as my favorite Chicago restaurant, but only by virtue of their stone-crab stronghold. But Bayless’ Frontera Grill is right up there as one of my favorite dining experiences—EVER.

So congrats on your Top Chef Masters win Rick—you totally deserve it.

Buy Rick’s cookbooks here. And don’t forget to give the Queen of Buttah some love too.

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