A grill pan, salmon and a glass of pinot noir

finished salmon

by Chris Milligan, a chef’s husband

I’m no chef.  I’m not even a very good cook.  But as the husband of 30 years to Terri Milligan, one of the best chefs around, I know the key component of any great meal is simplicity. I hate doing dishes, long shopping lists, hours of prep, and deciphering recipes that read like a Russian road map.

Let’s face it, I love when Terri cooks for me! But after twenty crazy and wildly successful years as the Chef and co-owner of The Inn at Kristofer’s,  it was time for her to step back just a little.  That’s why I’m doing this post for her.   Besides, I‘ve learned over the years how to cook a great piece of fish.  And even though it’s a little pedestrian, I prefer salmon.
salmon in grill pan
I like the texture, the taste, the fact that it is filling, healthy, affordable and widely available.   And that leads me to my favorite things.  A grill pan, fresh salmon and a glass (or two) of Pinot Noir.  Like most men, I can throw together a spaghetti dinner, grill a burger, soak a brat in beer, or pick up the pizza that my wife ordered out because I was just too lazy (or did I mean “busy”) to call.  But if you want to step up your game, and add one great, really healthy, crazy simple meal to your repertoire, read on.

Here’s all you need:  a high quality grill pan, fresh salmon, and a bottle of Pinot Noir. Don’t chase all over town looking for “special” salmon.  Unless you own a restaurant, you may have trouble finding fresh Wild Alaskan Salmon.      Wild Alaskan may be my favorite but there is a season for fresh.   Luckily, many markets have wild salmon in their freezer section.
flipped salmon in grill pan
Here’s what you do:   Pre-heat your grill pan over medium high heat.    Pat dry the salmon with paper towel and season with Kosher salt.   Lightly brush both sides of the salmon with olive oil. My personal favorite is the lemon infused olive oil.  Grill each side for 3-4 minutes – longer if you prefer a well done piece of fish.    That’s it.


Serve with a side of a perfect grain like quinoa flavored with butternut squash, mushroom, shallots and fresh mint.  If you’re as lucky as I am, someone like Terri will make the quinoa!    And by the way, she has the recipe for the quinoa on this website!

oilerie cupcake photo



It’s a perfect red to pair with salmon.    A domestic pinot noir from a cooler region like  the Central Coast of California, Washington State or Oregon is a great choice.  These domestic pinot noirs are usually silkier than their French cousins and lower in tannins and alcohol content.  There are some beautiful French pinots, but than can be more expensive, a little heavier, and lot harder to come by.

So there you have it!    A simple meal of grilled salmon and pinot noir made with my handy grill pan. Live well and eat simple.

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7 Responses to A grill pan, salmon and a glass of pinot noir

  1. James says:

    What do you mean when you refer to a grill pan? Is this prepared on an outdoor grill or is it done on kitchen range?

    • Chef Terri says:

      We use a grill pan that goes on the burner. The one Chris is using in the photos is a nonstick grill pan. They are also available in a cast iron version. Either works well, however, the nonstick is easier for clean up. Happy cooking!

  2. Cindy says:


    Your new website is awesome! Chris, way to go; you stepped up to the plate and put a great, healthy meal together, beverage included.

    My husband and I have enjoyed the Inn at Kristofers for many years and always look forward to our next visit.

    Thank You!

    • Chef Terri says:

      Thanks Cindy!
      Always nice to have a meal made for you. Chris is an expert with salmon preparation. More recipes to come.

  3. Marybeth says:

    Chris- do you grill the salmon skin on or remove it first?

    • Chef Terri says:

      Hi Marybeth

      It is really your choice. If you do grill it with skin on, I usually start with the flesh side down and then flip it to the skin side. If I do a thinner fish, such as steel head (also called sea trout) I keep the skin on as it is hard to remove the skin on a fish that isn’t that thick. Hope that helps!

  4. Jim Winston says:

    We don’t own in DC anymore but have many fond memories of your excellent food over the years. Will stop by next time in DC and best wishes to wonderful family.
    Jim/Ginny Winston

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