This is the dish that I did for my first elimination challenge on Top Chef Canada. We were asked to make something that was our personality on a plate. As the only Montrealer in the compitition and a proud Quebecer, I felt it important to bring some Quebec ingredients and flavours to the plate. As regular readers of this blog should know, I am a big fan of cooking with apples and maple syrup so I knew I wanted to do a dish with these ingredients. I originally wanted to do something with duck, because in Quebec duck is very popular and there are many local farms producing high quality duck. Unfortunately I couldn't find any in the 30 minutes we were given to shop in the challenge. I settled on salmon instead because I love using the smoker and smoked salmon is also very popular in Montreal.
This recipe finds its roots in two different dishes. Smoked salmon on blinis (potato pancakes) is a French classic. This dish is normally served cold, in bite sized portions as a canapé. The other dish I had in mind was the buckwheat pancakes that are served at Au Pied du Cochon with seared fois gras and maple syrup. By combining these two dishes, I made a warm comforting dish that was both a nod to the cuisines of France and Quebec. The tart citrus supremes help cut through the richness of the dish. The maple brandy butter ties everything together. The dish was a big hit with the Top Chef judges and their one complaint was that I didn't give them enough of the delicious sauce!
Serves 4 Prep time 30 minutes, cooking time 20 minutes
800g center cut salmon
100ml maple syrup
100g cold butter, cubed
2 macintosh apples, peeled and diced
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tbs baking powder
2 cups milk
salt & pepper
Woodchips for smoking - preferable a blend of 80% maple 20% hickory, soaked for 1 hour in cold water
1. Mix the dry ingredients of the buckwheat pancakes in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the milk and eggs to the well and stir until the batter is smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes
3. Light a small amount of natural charcoal in your barbecue. If are using a gas barbecue, you will need to wrap the chips in a perforated aluminum pouch and place them as close to the element as possible without touching the open flame. For more tips on smoking, see my recipe for smoked mackeral. If you are using charcoal, the aluminum poach is useful because if will prevent the chips from igniting, but it will take longer for the chips to start smoking. If you are fortunate enough to own a bbq that was built to be used as a smoker, follow the instructions that came with the machine. The ideal temperate to cook the salmon at is 150C, 300F
5. Meanwhile, start to fry the pancakes. Heat a small amount of butter in a non-stick pan on medium heat and pour 2" pancakes. Fry for 2 minutes on either side. Transfer pancakes to paper towel to remove excess grease. Work in batches until you have 12 pancakes.
7. To make the sauce, add the calvados, or brandy to a small sauce pan and reduce by half. Be careful as the brandy will catch fire. It is ok if this happens. The fire can be quickly and easily extinguished by covering the top of the pot with a lid. Whisk in the cold butter, one cube at a time and then whisk in 100ml maple syrup.
1, Warm the pancakes on a baking tray in an oven prehested to 150C/300F. When warmed through, make a pile of three pancakes in the center of each plate.
2. Scatter the citrus supremes and caramelized apples around the pancakes.
3. Place one piece of salmon on each pile of pancakes.
4. Drizzle sauce on and around salmon.