Citizens, in honor of your glorious leader’s birthday, today I share a legendary recipe suitable for the feasting table of the Czar Himself – and for TFD! 😀
Coulibiac is a classic of old Russian cuisine, traditionally made of flaked salmon combined with mushroom duxelles (Duxelles, named for the seventeenth century French Marquis d’Uxelles, a delectable mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots, and herbs), leek, and chopped hard-boiled eggs, all encased in puff pastry.
The dish was so popular in Russia in the early part of the 20th century that Auguste Escoffier, the famed French chef, brought it to France and included recipes for it in his masterwork, The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery.
The Franco-Russian version of this recipe originally used vesiga, a luxurious and supremely rare ingredient: the spinal marrow of a sturgeon (a tasteless textural ingredient here replaced by Asian cellophane noodles, which are the equivalent of vesiga in every way). While time consuming, the end result is truly delicious!
Most modern coulibiacs use rice, but I instead go with the classic tradition of the grand coulibiac of Escoffier and use crêpes instead. I have also added the smoked salmon, which is not used in the classic recipe but I find adds a delicious nuance to the final flavor profile. The original Russian coulibiac used sturgeon with the salmon, I find sea bass to be an excellent substitute. While I call for making your own puff pastry, you can easily simplify the recipe by purchasing top-quality frozen puff pastry dough instead.
Citizens, this is one of the grandest recipes you will ever make – remember the glory of your leader, , and his birthday when you make this most exquisite of dishes for your VERY lucky guests! 🙂
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 2 cups white wine
- 2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 2 cups celery leaves
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 5 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- 1 (2 pound) salmon fillet, boned and skinned
- 1 (2 pound) sea bass fillet, boned and skinned
- ¼ pound smoked salmon
- 1 (4-ounce) package Asian cellophane noodles
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 8 tablespoons, melted, for serving, and 4 ounces melted butter for buttering pan
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 4 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced, white parts only
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- ⅛ cup chopped fresh thyme
- ⅛ cup chopped fresh tarragon
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 12 ounces mushrooms, sliced, such as shiitake or white button
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus 2 tablespoons, for serving
- 12 to 14 unsweetened crêpes, recipe follows
- 2 pounds Puff Pastry, chilled, recipe follows
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- ⅛ cup all purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- Pâte Feuilletée (Puff Pastry):
- 1 pound all-purpose flour, accurately weighed
- 1 pound (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy cream (or ½ cup heavy cream mixed with ½ cup ice water)
- Pâte Feuilletée, Directions
- Step 1. In the bowl of a food processor or using the flat paddle of an electric mixer, mix ½ cup flour with butter until very smooth. Shape the mixture into a flat square 1 inch thick, wrap well in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Step 2. Combine salt with the remaining flour in a large mixing bowl, and add cream (or cream and water). Mix the dough well by hand or with an electric mixer; the dough will not be completely smooth but it should not be sticky. Shape it into a flat square 1 ½ inches thick, wrap in plastic, and chill, at least 30 minutes.
- Step 3. Remove the flour dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough into a rectangle twice as long as the butter dough. Place the butter dough in the center, fold up the ends to completely encase the butter dough, and seal the edges by pinching them together. Wrap well in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes, so that the dough achieves the same temperature throughout.
- Step 4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured board, roll it out into a large rectangle approximately ½ inch thick. Fold the dough into thirds, aligning the edges carefully and brushing off any excess flour. The object is to ensure that the butter is distributed evenly throughout, so that the pastry will puff evenly when baked. Wrap the dough, and chill it for at least 30 minutes. This completes 1 turn.
- Step 4 should be repeated 5 more times; classic puff pastry gets 6 turns, creating hundreds of layers of butter between layers of the flour dough (729 to be exact). Use as little flour as possible when rolling out the dough, and always brush off any excess. Remember to let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator between turns, or 15 minutes in the freezer.
- This chilling makes the rolling out much easier, and it keeps the layers of butter of equal thickness. By the 6th and final turn, the dough should be very smooth, with no lumps of butter visible. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 2 days), or freeze for future use.
- In a large fish poacher over medium heat, combine wine, celery, celery leaves, carrots, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Place salmon and sea bass over vegetables, and add enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, and cook until just done (still pink inside), about 15 minutes. Remove fish from poacher; allow to cool.
- Using your hands, flake the salmon into small pieces and place into a large bowl with flaked or chopped smoked salmon pieces. Flake the sea bass separately.
- Place cellophane noodles in a medium bowl. Pour over enough hot water to cover. Let sit until soft, about 7 minutes.
- Heat 4 tablespoons butter and canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add leeks, and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl with salmon. Add dill, thyme, tarragon, salt, and pepper.
- Heat remaining 6 tablespoons butter in same sauté pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, and sauté over high heat until dark brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain noodles, chop finely, and add to the salmon mixture.
- Stir in hard-boiled eggs, salt, pepper, cayenne, and lemon juice. Mix well to combine, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- To make the crêpes, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition until there are no lumps. Add the melted butter. Gradually stir in the milk and mix until the batter is the consistency of thin cream (you may not need all the milk, so add it slowly). Let the batter rest before using.
- Make the crêpes in a heated 8–inch crêpe pan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and, when hot, brush with a little melted butter. Pour a little of the batter into the pan, tilting and rotating it so the batter coats the surface evenly. Pour any excess back into the bowl. Cook the crêpe until lightly browned on one side; turn and lightly brown the other side. Keep warm on a plate until ready to use.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a baking sheet. Set aside.
- To assemble the coulibiac, roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to ⅛-inch thick, 20 by 24-inches. Using a sharp knife, divide pastry into a 9 by 24-inch rectangle and an 11 by 24-inch rectangle. Place the small rectangle on the prepared baking sheet.
- Melt the remaining 4 ounces butter. Put a layer of crêpes on the dough, then some of the flaked salmon mixture leaving a ¾-inch border. Cover with melted butter, another layer of crêpes and then the sea bass mixture, and more melted butter and a final layer of crêpes.
- Brush the pastry border with ice water, and cover with larger top pastry rectangle. Trim corners, fold bottom pastry over, and press tightly to seal. Gather the scraps. Roll again, and cut into decorative shapes. Brush with ice water, and attach to coulibiac as desired.
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and cream. Brush the surface of the coulibiac with egg-yolk mixture. (The coulibiac can be refrigerated at this point up to 3 or 4 hours.) Using a small paring knife, cut a circle, about ½-inch in diameter, out of the top center of the coulibiac to allow steam to escape. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing into serving pieces.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt 8 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat, and add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Spoon over sliced coulibiac as desired.
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