Wednesday 18 July 2012

Salmon Meatballs with Lemon and Herb Infused Cream Sauce

Canned salmon is my friend.  I always have some in the cupboard.  

We’re fortunate to have some fishing friends who kindly share their bounty with us, and I make a point of putting a good percentage of that fish by in jars. It's a blessing during the months when no fresh salmon is to be had. 

This year, we were lucky enough to have sufficient home canned salmon in our pantry to get us right through the year.  Sometimes, though, our supply does run out.  When that happens, I buy canned salmon at the grocery store, taking care to purchase wild salmon caught and canned in either Canada or the U.S.

One of my favourite adaptable, canned salmon dishes is a simple salmon loaf.  I'm always changing up the ingredients but, last week, I decided to change the presentation too.  I used a variation of the recipe to make salmon meatballs, and then dressed them in a lemon and dill infused cream sauce.

Sometimes you have to be willing trade a little time in order to save money on a dish, or to get a better return in flavour.  This dish is like that.

The milk for the sauce needs to infuse for a couple of hours before you assemble the meal so, if you're planning to serve your meatballs as soon as they come out of the oven, you'll need to begin making the sauce well before dinnertime.

Although it does require some time and prior planning, this meal is tasty, the meatballs freeze well, and the ingredients are all very affordable. I consider the extra prep time required to be a good investment. 

Begin by making the infused milk for the sauce.  You’ll need:
  • 2 Tablespoons of chopped chives
  • Grated lemon zest (I grate the zest from a large lemon and use half of it for the infused milk, reserving the remainder of the zest, and the juice from the lemon for use in my salmon meatballs.)
  • chopped dill or pieces of dill stem (I use the stems because they have good flavour and might otherwise be discarded.)
  • about 1-1/2 cups milk 

Place the chives and lemon zest in the bottom of a pint jar, with the dill stems on top of them.   

Pour the milk over the herbs in the jar.

Cover the jar and store it in the fridge for at least two hours.

To make the Salmon Meatballs, you’ll need:


  • 1 pint, or two 8 ounce tins, of canned salmon (I used pink salmon.)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • The juice and half the grated zest from one large lemon (See the note in the infused milk instructions, above)
  • 2 cups soft of bread crumbs (I keep a bag of crumbs in the freezer for use in dishes like this one, made from the heels of our home baked bread chopped fine in the food processor.)
  • 2/3 cup of pitted, coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill 

Turn the salmon and the liquid it’s packed in out, into a bowl, and flake the fish with a fork.  Don't discard the liquid.  You want to incorporate it into the meatballs.

You can remove the salmon skin and bones if you want to, but both are so broken down by the canning process that they’re easily digested.  The bones, in particular, are a very good source of calcium so I leave them in.

Add the reserved grated lemon zest and the juice from the lemon to the flaked salmon.  

Add in the milk, then beat the eggs and add them in too.  Stir the whole mixture together until the ingredients are well combined.

Add in the bread crumbs, olives, onions, and dill.  Mix the dry ingredients through the wet mixture.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate the meatball mixture for at least a half hour, so that the crumbs have a chance to absorb some of the moisture and bind everything together.  Your mixture should look like this:

If there’s any liquid remaining at the bottom of the bowl, mix in a few more breadcrumbs to soak it up.

Form the salmon mixture into meatballs.  (I used a small ice cream scoop for portioning and then pressed the meatballs into shape with my hands.)  Place the meatballs onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake the meatballs in a 350F oven until they’re cooked through and firm.  (This took about 15 minutes in my oven.)  

While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce.  

To make the sauce, you’ll need:

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • the lemon and herb infused milk you prepared earlier

Pour the infused milk through a sieve to strain out the herbs and lemon peel.  Discard the herbs and peel, keeping only the milk itself.  Add more plain milk, to make a total quantity of 2 cups.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, and stir in the flour.  Cook the butter and flour together for 3 to 5 minutes, until the raw taste has cooked out of the flour but it has not yet taken on any colour.  

Gradually add in the infused milk, stirring constantly. Continue stirring and heating the sauce until it thickens and comes to a boil. 

When the meatballs come out of the oven, serve them over pasta, rice, cooked spaghetti squash, or toast, and dress them with the cream sauce.  

So good!  Pure comfort food, but good for you too.  :)

A Note on Cooking Ahead:  
If you're preparing the meatballs ahead of time for storage in the freezer, let them cool completely on the baking pan before packing them into freezer bags.  Reheat them in a covered container in the microwave.  They’re less likely to dry out in the microwave than they would be in a conventional oven. 
This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife, to Foodie Friday hosted by Not Your Ordinary Recipes, to Pity Party hosted by Thirty Handmade Days, to Foodie Friday hosted by Rattlebridge Farm, to Foodie Friends Friday hosted by Walking on Sunshine, to Strut Your Stuff Saturdays at Six Sisters' Stuff, to Weekend Potluck hosted by Sunflower Supper Club, to Think Pink Sundays hosted by Flamingo Toes, to Scrumptious Sunday hosted by Addicted to Recipes, to Church Supper hosted by Everyday Mom's Meals, to Makin' You Crave Monday hosted by Mrs. Happy Homemaker, to Craft-O-Maniac Monday hosted by Craft-O-Maniac, to Busy Monday hosted by A Pinch of Joy, to Manic Monday at Bobbi's Cozy Kitchen, and to Tip Me Tuesday hosted by Tip Junkie, to Delicious Dish Tuesday hosted by Full Time Mama, Mama Chocolate, and Coping With Frugality, to the Tuesday To Do Party hosted by The Blackberry Vine, and to Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest hosted by Fresh Eggs Daily.

Gallery of Favorites  

Thirty Handmade Days



Addicted to Recipes Button, Page button   Everyday Mom's Meals

Mrs Happy Homemaker   Mixitup   Tip Junkie handmade projects

Full Time Mama   Tuesday To Do Party



Anonymous said...

This is perfect! I don't know if you noticed my shout out on Facebook yesterday looking for salmon recipes to disguise for Mrs.CBB. This would be perfect. I have a few cans of salmon I need to use up and I think this will do. Cheers and thanks. I'm also looking to do a post on frugal meals for the summer that you don't need to use the stove or oven for. If you have a recipe you would like to submit to my blog post send it my way. Cheers Mr.CBB

Aunt B said...

Sorry, I missed that one! Good to know that this will prove useful to you. :) I'll put on my thinking cap and try to get a recipe to you soon. Thanks for asking.

Alil Country Sugar said...

Very interesting, and I love salmon. I will have to give this a try. Thank you for sharing at Foodie Friends Friday.

Aunt B said...

I'm glad that you like it Angie. Thank you so much for hosting. I appreciate the opportunity to share my recipes.

Cindy Kerschner said...

I never added olives to salmon patties or meatballs, sounds good! Thanks for stopping by and linking to Foodie Friends Friday!

Aunt B said...

Thanks for stopping by to check it out Cindy. The olives are unusual, I'll admit but they work very well with the lemon and dill. Thanks for hosting. I appreciate the opportunity to share my recipes.

Unknown said...

this looks delicious...thanks for sharing it with Foodie Friends Friday.

Becky McNeer said...

Wow, these sound delish! I love salmon cakes, so this is right up my alley! Thank you for linking to Foodie Friday.

Aunt B said...

I'm glad you like it Marlys. Thanks for hosting and for taking the time to stop by and check out the recipe.

Aunt B said...

I'm glad you like the recipe. We sure enjoyed the meal. Thanks for hosting Foodie Friday. I found some good links there.

Lois Christensen said...

Love the sauce! Looks really good! Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday! Please come back tomorrow to VOTE!

Aunt B said...

Thank you for hosting, and for popping by to check out the recipe. I'll stop by tomorrow.

Krista said...

You had me at that sauce! Anything lemon and I'm a fan. Thanks for sharing at Church Supper. Have a blessed week & come back soon ~EMM

Aunt B said...

Thanks for hosting. I found some good links at Church Supper this week. :) I hope you have a good week too.

April @ The 21st Century Housewife said...

I always have canned salmon in my pantry too. It's delicious, nutritious and so handy. I love what you have done with it here - taking a really simple, accessible ingredient and making a very, very special recipe. Your Salmon Meatballs with Lemon and Herb Infused Cream Sauce sound absolutely wonderful!

Aunt B said...

April, I'm so pleased that you like this recipe. I was happy with how it turned out. Thanks for hosting Gallery of Favorites. I've found lots of inspiration there.

Unknown said...

I picked this recipe as the "host favorite" this week on Foodie Friends Friday and you are featured on my blog Busy Vegetarian Mom! If you like, you may pick up a button honoring your awesome recipe at under the Hosts Tab at top!!

Aunt B said...

Thank you so much Tracy. I'm honoured. I'll be making a post about the feature, with a link to your blog, tomorrow on my FB page. Thanks, too, for hosting Foodie Friends Friday. I found some really interesting links there this week.

Alesha @ Full Time Mama said...

Wow, lemon infused cream sauce?! You're amazing! Sounds SO good!

Aunt B said...

Thanks Alesha. I'm glad you like the idea. :)

Lisa/Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl said...

This looks SO yummy! I would love for you to come share at my Farm Girl Blog Fest:

And while you're visiting, enter to win a copy of Laura Childs' new mystery Stake & Eggs (the tab to enter the contest is at the top of my homepage)

Fresh Eggs Daily

Aunt B said...

I'm glad you like the recipe Lisa. Thanks for the invitation to link up. I found lots of inspiring ideas.