Thursday 31 January 2008

Recipe: Salmon & Tarragon Pie

Although this might sound like a complicated dish, it is actually quite straightforward, and probably the prep time needed from scratch until baking is no more than thirty minutes, if you're organised. The recipe is not unlike a quick-and-dirty version of Coulibiac, and - as with Coulibiac - benefits significantly from the fact that all of the different flavours are layered separately rather than mixed in together - with the result that you end up with a series of distinct flavour hits on the palate, all working with and against each other at the same time......Salmon, and Lemon, and Tarragon, and Mushrooms......delicious!

Being greedy, I would serve this as a starter - but it is substantial enough that it could also work as a main course, with the addition of an appropriate green vegetable. Even as a starter, though, it's light enough that it doesn't spoil the appetite for the courses to follow.

For two individual pies.

Ingredients: 3 sheets of Phyllo Pastry, each 6" x 12"; 8 oz Butter; 250g Salmon fillet, skinned; 100g Button Mushrooms; 1 tablespoon finely chopped Tarragon; grated rind of 1 Lemon; 4 fl oz Cream; 4 fl oz dry Vermouth; 2 Egg Whites, stiffly beaten; Salt & Pepper; a pinch of Nutmeg. Chopped Parsley & melted Butter, for serving.


1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees C.

2. Using two of the Phyllo sheets and 1 oz of Butter, make two individual phyllo tart shells. Make sure you leave enough melted Butter in the pan to brush the third sheet of Phyllo at the end of construction of the pies, when you'll need it for the 'lids'. Leave the oven switched on after you take out the baked tart shells, as you'll need it later to bake the pies.

3. Finely chop the Mushrooms, and sauté gently in 1 oz Butter for about five minutes, along with a generous pinch of Salt.

4. Meanwhile, process 175g of the Salmon fillet, along with Cream, Vermouth, 6 oz Butter, nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Remove this mixture to a bowl, and fold in the beaten Egg Whites.

5. Divide half of the Salmon mixture between the two pastry shells, and top with a layer of chopped Tarragon and then a layer of grated Lemon rind (use all of the Tarragon and rind in doing this).

6. Finely slice the remaining Salmon fillet, and divide it between the two tarts, making a layer of sliced fillet in each one. On top of this layer, divide the remaining Salmon/Cream mixture, and then use the final sheet of Phyllo to top the pies. (Brush the Phyllo with melted Butter, then cut it in half and use each half to make a lid, working round and folding it in to fit the shape of the pie; cut a cross in the centre of each top, and fold back the corners to leave a small square hole in the Phyllo. If you have any melted Butter left, use it to brush the top of each pie.)

7. Bake 30 minutes in the pre-heated oven. Leave to cool down for ten minutes or so after you remove the pies from the oven, and serve warm, with a spoonful of melted Butter and chopped Parsley over each one..........and a glass of chilled Pouilly Fumé alongside!

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