WHATEVER about the turkey, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a side of smoked salmon in the fridge. One of the most versatile ingredients, it can be added to so many different foods to make lots of great meals over the holidays.
It’s a bit of a tradition in our house that once the champagne has been popped for the grown-ups and the slices of smoked salmon on buttered brown bread appears, it is time to open the remaining presents (the ones that haven’t been torn open first thing in the morning) before sitting down for the big meal.
I love having some leftover smoked salmon for a quick meal for whoever happens to be in the house at the time. It can be used in so many dishes: a brunch or late supper of baked eggs with smoked salmon; a smoked salmon omelette; smoked salmon with scrambled eggs; toasted sandwiches with smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives; a quick pasta dish with smoked salmon, peas and chopped herbs; a comforting gratin of potatoes and smoked salmon; or added into mashed potato cakes. Smoked salmon is also great in a chunky fish chowder, or chopped, pan-fried and scattered over a leek and potato soup.
At the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC in Birmingham last week, Jamie Oliver smoked his own thick slices of salmon by placing them in a biscuit tin which had a layer of wood shavings (such as oak or beech) on the base and a couple of slits cut in the lid, then putting it on a low hob for about 40 minutes, with a damp cloth sitting on top of the tin to avoid smoking out the whole kitchen. This was served with a salsa of tomatoes, onion and coriander leaves.
Also at the show last week I met Graham and Saoirse Roberts from the award winning Connemara Smokehouse in Co Galway and tasted some of their delicious smoked fish including traditional smoked salmon and their divine roast smoked salmon, which is slowly smoked using a hot fire to give a cooked salmon texture with a beautiful smoky taste. They can be contacted at 095 23739 or check out their website for online ordering at www. smokehouse. ie .
HOT POTATO CAKES WITH SMOKED SALMON AND CREME FRAICHE
900g unpeeled ‘old’ potatoes (as in not little KE waxy new potatoes)
1 tbsp chopped herbs, such as parsley, chives and a little thyme
Salt and pepper
Some creamy milk (milk with a little cream)
Seasoned flour (flour seasoned with a little salt and pepper)
Some butter and olive oil for frying
110g smoked salmon
A few chopped chives
Cook the potatoes in their skins, pull off the peel and mash right away, adding the butter, flour and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and add a few drops of hot creamy milk if the mixture is too stiff (it does need to be quite firm for the cakes to stay together in the pan). Mix well, taste and correct seasoning. Shape into potato cakes about one inch thick.
Dip in the seasoned flour to coat, then fry in a little butter and olive oil till golden on one side then flip over and cook on the other side for a few minutes again. They should be crusty and golden. Place on very hot plates. Put a dollop of creme fraiche on top of each potato cake, top with slivers of smoked salmon and sprinkle with chopped chives. Serve immediately.
GRATIN OF POTATOES WITH SMOKED SALMON
900g peeled potatoes, sliced 4-5mm thick (quarter inch)
2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
175g smoked salmon cut into slices, or chopped
A small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
Heat the oven to 1800C/fan 1600C/gas 4.
Layer half the potatoes in a buttered baking dish with a little salt and pepper, followed by the smoked salmon slices, then the remaining potatoes.
Mix the cream, milk, garlic and parsley together and season with salt and pepper.
Pour over the potatoes and smoked salmon in the gratin dish, and bake for about 40 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked and the top is golden and bubbling .
BAKED EGGS WITH SMOKED SALMON
8 tbsp cream
4 tbsp chopped smoked salmon
Salt and pepper
1 tsp chopped dill . . . optional
Preheat the oven to 1800C, gas 4. Lightly 29butter four ramekins. Heat the cream, then place one tablespoonful in the base of each ramekin. Add one tablespoon of chopped smoked salmon (and a pinch of chopped dill, if using) into each then break an egg (or two if you are hungry) into each ramekin.
Season with a little salt and pepper, then spoon another tablespoon of cream over the top of the eggs.
Put the ramekins into a roasting tray or gratin dish which has been half filled with boiling water, cover with a saucepan lid or tinfoil and place in the preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes, until the eggs are just set. Serve immediately.
POTATO ROSTI WITH SMOKED SALMON, CREME FRAICHE, RED ONIONS AND ROCKET LEAVES
8 large potatoes
25 g butter
8 tbsp creme fraiche
1 medium red onion sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
This is a great dish for a lunch or dinner party . . . you are essentially making one large potato rosti which is a potato cake made from sliced or grated potato.
First of all peel about 8 large potatoes , then cut them lengthways into very thin ‘chips’ . . . this can be done by hand or using a mandolin. You can also roughly grate the peeled potatoes . Melt 25g of butter with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan (non-stick helps but is not essential) on a medium heat, put the potatoes in the frying pan and season with salt and pepper . . . there should be enough potatoes to fill the whole pan.
With your hands flat, press down on the potatoes to make them quite compact in the pan. Do not stir them, the starch from the cut potatoes will make them stick together, forming them into one large ‘cake’. Cook until they are light golden on the base then put the whole pan in a moderate oven for about 20-30 minutes, until all the potatoes are cooked through . . . a skewer should go through easily. It can be kept warm like this in the pan, covered for about 20 minutes.
When you are ready to serve, flip the large potato rosti out (so that it is upside down) on a large serving plate. Cover it with a layer of creme fraiche, then some very thinly sliced red onion followed by rocket leaves and thin slices of smoked salmon. Add a few capers if you wish too.
Cut into wedges to serve.