If you want to blow your manicure budget on $12 pre-spiced honey, by all means go ahead. But you could also just mix up some honey and chili, whip in mustard, coat salmon, and come up with this killer dish. The fake gratin couldn’t be easier; the cream and parm bind together to make a gratin so lazy I can practically call the shots from the couch.
- One 2 ½ pound butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, plus some whole sprigs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- ¼ cup grainy Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- One 2-pound piece center-cut salmon fillet, skin-on
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed as much as possible from slices
Arrange 2 racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the squash in half at the point where it bells out, then stand up each piece and use a sharp knife to cut away the peel (or use a heavy duty peeler). Use a spoon to scoop out any seeds from the wider piece of squash (the narrower top part should be seedless). Cut the squash into ½-inch rings and add to a large bowl. Toss with the oil, thyme, salt and pepper, and arrange on a large rimmed baking sheet (it’s OK if some of the pieces overlap slightly). Drizzle the squash with the cream, then sprinkle the cheese on top and scatter a few thyme sprigs all over the top. Slide into the bottom rack and roast until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.
Once you’ve got the squash in the oven combine the mustard, honey, garlic, cayenne, and salt in a bowl. Arrange the salmon, skin side down, on another baking sheet, spread the mustard mixture on top and arrange the lemon slices on top of the fish. During the last 15 minutes of squash cooking, slide the salmon into the top rack and bake until the salmon is just baked through, 13 to 15 minutes. Crank up the broiler and broil the salmon for 2 minutes so the lemons caramelize slightly.
Remove both baking sheets from the oven and serve the salmon with the squash.