When Amanda Hesser describes her recipe for Smoked Mackerel on Toast from The Essential New York Times Cookbook as her take on brandade, I have to think that she's underselling this incredible spread. At least a little bit.
Brandade is a wonderful, hearty winter starter but when too many potatoes are added, you run the risk of fishy mashed potatoes.
In this recipe, salted cod is replaced by smoked mackerel, a fish with a stronger, oilier flavor that works beautifully when mashed with fruity olive oil and crème fraiche. The potato is more for smoothness and body than flavor, lending a lovely spreadability. While eating a few slices of baguette spread with this, it occurred to me that the creamy, fishy spread is almost like a fancied-up version of that Jewish deli staple, whitefish salad. The smoothness and smokiness were there, but the olive oil and crème fraiche added elegance and a rich, fatty flavor.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Essential New York Times Cookbook to give away this week.
Reprinted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. Compilation copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company and Amanda Hesser. Recipes and reprinted text copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
- 1 medium white potato (about 7 ounces), peeled
- 1 clove garlic
- Sea Salt
- 1/2 pound smoked mackerel or trout fillets, skinned
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 tablespoons crème fraiche
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
- 20 thin slices baguette, toasted
Place the potato and garlic clove in a small saucepan, cover with water, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potato is very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the liquid.
Mash the potato in a bowl with a potato masher while it is still warm. Add the mackerel and oil and mix with the potato masher or a fork until smooth and loose enough to spread. Thin as needed with the reserved potato water. Add the crème fraiche and season with pepper. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Stir in the chives. Spread on toasts and serve.