Yes to this creamy brandade: All the mashed potatoes but made simpler with smoked salmon
Dorie Greenspan’s recipe turns the decadent app into its own full meal
We love when a variation on a classic recipe can simplify the cooking process, while keeping — or even adding to — what made the original so special. This take on brandade from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook Everyday Dorie does exactly that. Greenspan’s version swaps salt cod for smoked salmon and adds a touch of shepherd’s pie to the mix, turning the creamy app into a satisfying main that’s luxe enough to serve to dinner guests, but comforting enough to enjoy alone on a cool night in.
By Dorie Greenspan
I created this dish out of a longing for traditional brandade and a reluctance to make it. A blend of very creamy mashed potatoes and salt cod, brandade is rich, filling and is deeply satisfying — but not the kind of dish I’d make at home. Salt cod needs to be soaked in several changes of water over several hours or even days before you can start cooking it — and I rarely plan that far in advance.
My version keeps everything that I love about brandade but swaps smoked salmon for the salt cod. The milk and smoked salmon are boiled together, left to steep and then used to make the mashed potatoes. I’ve also channeled the goodness of shepherd’s pie and added a surprise underlayer, a mix of quickly cooked fresh salmon, onions, herbs and more smoked salmon. This brandade celebrates everything that’s warm and comforting about the original while adding a touch of luxe — it’s brandade for dinner parties. Serve with a salad and white wine. Maybe even Champagne.
A word on the smoked salmon: This is not the time to buy the most expensive smoked salmon you can find; this is the time for scraps and ends. Since you’ll be chopping the salmon to bits and then cooking it, it needn’t come from the coveted center of the salmon or be hand-sliced by a master.
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ½ lb (227 g) smoked salmon (see headnote), finely chopped
- 2-2 ¼ lbs (454-1020 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks
- Kosher salt
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, plus ½ tablespoon cold butter
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped, rinsed and patted dry
- 2 garlic cloves, germ removed and minced
- 6-8 oz (170-227 g) skinless salmon fillet, cut into small cubes
- ¼ cup white wine or dry vermouth
- 2-3 tbsp minced mixed fresh herbs, such as dill, chives, parsley and/or tarragon
- Plain dry bread crumbs, for finishing
Bring the milk just to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in half of the smoked salmon, turn off the heat and let steep while you make the potatoes.
Put the potatoes in a tall pot (I use a pasta cooker for this — it makes draining easy), cover generously with cold water, salt the water copiously with kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they’re so tender that you can easily crush them against the side of the pot with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well.
The potatoes must be mashed, a job best (and most elegantly) done with a food mill or ricer, which produces fluffier potatoes than you get with a fork or masher.
Mash the potatoes in a large bowl and then, using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the salmon-milk mixture, followed by the 6 pieces of butter. The potatoes will be softer and looser than you might be used to. Season with sea salt and pepper. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the potatoes and set aside while you make the onion-salmon base. (You can cover the potatoes and refrigerate them overnight.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch pie plate or gratin pan (preferably one that’s not metal) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toss in the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper — go light on the salt — and stir in the cubed fresh salmon. Increase the heat to medium- high and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine or vermouth and cook, stirring, until the wine almost evaporates, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the herbs and the remaining smoked salmon. Taste for salt and pepper and scrape the mixture into the buttered pan. Top with the mashed potatoes, spreading them all the way to the edges of the pan. Dot with bits of the cold butter and sprinkle over the bread crumbs. (Atthis point, you can cover the dish and refrigerate it for as long as 1 day.)
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are hot all the way through (poke a knife into them and then touch the knife to test for heat), the juices from the onions and salmon are bubbling and the top is golden brown. If you want more color, you can run the brandade under the broiler.
Serve immediately — brandade is meant to be so hot that you’ve got to blow on every forkful.
WORKING AHEAD: You can make the salmon mashed potatoes up to 1 day ahead and keep them covered in the refrigerator. You can even assemble the brandade and hold it covered in the fridge for a day.
STORING: The brandade is best as soon as it’s made, but if you’ve got leftovers, they’ll be good reheated the next day.
Excerpted from Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook © 2018 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2018 by Ellen Silverman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Servings: Makes 6 to 8 servings