Every once in awhile, I'll pull out a Thomas Keller cookbook and try to figure out a way to make one of his recipes work for this column, with its limited amount of time and ingredients. Usually, the way to do it is by taking just a little less care with each step—cooking the potatoes in salted water, rather than creating a court bouillon, and simplifying the flavors only slightly.
Though I respect the kind Keller's perfection, most of the recipes are so good in themselves that they're still spectacular in their simplified states.
That's definitely true of this smoked trout salad from Bouchon, which makes a creamy, lemony vinaigrette for the flaked fish, brightens it with fresh herbs, and pairs the flavors against the bitterness of the endives. The potatoes are the perfect vehicle for carrying the smokiness of the trout.
I actually made this for a party, serving the trout mixture on little scoops of endive, then followed Keller's lead to turn it into a salad by slicing the endives cross-wise and tossing everything together. It's a stunning salad, subtle and perfectly balanced. And just as good for lunch the next day.
- Yolk of one hard-cooked egg
- 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard (or a combination of whole grain mustard and Dijon)
- Zest of 2 large lemons, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon minced cornichon pickles
- 2 tablespoons capers
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces fingerling potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 8 ounces smoked trout, broken into 1-inch chunks
- 8 small heads endive, cored and cut on an angle into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 3/4 cup minced herbs, such as parsley, chives, or tarragon
- 12 caperberries, for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, mustard, and lemon juice. Crush the yolk with a fork and whisk to combine the ingredients. While whisking constantly, pour in the oil very slowly to create a creamy emulsion. Stir in the lemon zest, cornichon pickles, and half the capers. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In the meantime, cover the potatoes in a saucepan with cold water, season the water until it tastes like the sea, then bring to a boil. Lower the water to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about ten minutes. Drain.
Combine the remaining capers, potatoes, trout, endives, shallots, and most of the herbs in a large bowl. Add enough dressing to lightly coat the ingredients (you may have some left over). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mound on plates and serve with the remaining herbs as a garnish.