I’m a BIG fan of smoked fish. Well, actually, I love just about anything that comes out of a smoker/smokehouse. Perhaps it’s in my DNA. Is there a gene that regulates affinity for smoked food? It must be a combination of my New York/Eastern European (Russian/Polish) roots.
Whenever I see a dish that incorporates smoked fish, I’m easily swooned. In coming across this recipe for smoked trout brandade several months back (September 2014 issue of Bon Appetit), it immediately went into the ‘must try-recipes’ archive.
Brandade is a classic, French (Provencal), winter comfort dish; an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil blended with cream or milk, potatoes, and garlic until lusciously smooth and creamy. The base for brandade is salt cod. Salt preserving is one of the oldest methods of preserving food. However, before salt cod is palatable, it must be rehydrated and desalinated (soaked a day or two in water, changing the water several times per day).
While not entirely traditional, this recipe calls for smoked trout in place of salt cod. Fear not, it’s equally delicious with smoked trout, after all it’s smoked fish. Bonus: No soaking is required, so you can whip up a batch of smoked trout brandade without much planning or effort.
Smoke trout brandade makes for a delectable hors d’oeuvre. Serve at your next dinner party or gathering on some crusty, grilled bread along with cured meats, cheeses, and grapes. Who wouldn’t like that? That being said, I’d be just as happy having this for dinner alongside a green salad.
Unfortunately, my lack of outdoor space prohibits me from experimenting with home smoking (other than a small stovetop smoker). However, the day will come (oh someday, to dream, I’ll have a little patch of green to call my own)…
Until then, I’m happy to support the local food community. These trout come from Neopol Savory Smokery [Union Market, Washington, D.C.]. Neopol is a family-owned and operated producer of artisanal smoked fish based out of Baltimore, MD.
Chef John Fleer (of Rhubarb in Asheville, NC), from whom this recipe comes, enjoys indoor picnics with his family — smoked trout brandade and store-bought fixings. “We just sit on the floor and chat and chew,” he says.
Sounds like an ideal way to spend an evening (with a glass of wine, of course).
Smoked Trout ‘Brandade’
Adapted slightly from John Fleer of Rhubarb, Asheville, NC (via Bon Appetit)
1 large russet potato (about 10 ounces)
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
8 ounces smoked trout, skin and bones removed
3/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
chopped parsley, to garnish
1 baguette, sliced, toasted
Preheat oven to 400F.
Rub the potato with 1 teaspoon olive oil and bake directly on the oven rack until tender, 50–60 minutes. Let cool slightly, then peel. Mash the potato until nearly smooth.
Bring the garlic, trout, and milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and let sit 10 minutes at room temperature. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of the trout to a plate and flake.
Place the garlic, milk, and remaining trout in a food processor along with the lemon juice, paprika, and the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and gently fold in the mashed potato and flaked trout. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer trout mixture to a 1-quart shallow baking dish or four 6-ounce ramekins, and top with the grated Parmesan. Bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown, and the brandade is heated through, about 15–20 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with toasted bread, charcuterie, cheeses, and grapes.
Note: Brandade can be made (but not baked) one day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before baking.