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Signs of Life I
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La Belle Cuisine
Smoked Salmon Salad
Chef Charlie Trotter
Charlie Trotter is the chef and owner
of Charlie Trotter's, Chicago
Chefs of the Times:
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A first-course salad that’s rich but light
“My main job is eating, not cooking, because my restaurant is ultimately playing
to one palate. When I think up a dish or menu, I’m not trying to shock anyone
reinvent the wheel. I’m thinking of what I want to eat.
This menu is an example. It hops from distinct flavor to distinct flavor, but
four courses are in harmony. Most of them are adapted from what I served at a
recent dinner for Julia Child. Everything is stripped down and accessible – it
would work as well for family as it did for that very sophisticated eater.
I start with a salad in which virtually everything but the artichokes is raw, so
the flavors are clean and refreshing. First, I braise artichoke bottoms with
aromatics, like celery, onion, fennel, and apple. To keep the artichokes from
turning brown while I trim them, I keep them in water with parsley sprigs. It
works just as well
as acidulated water, with lemon, but it doesn’t break down the flesh and you
don’t get a lemon flavor. I do use lemon juice in the dressing, but it tastes
at the end.
The cooked artichokes are sliced paper-thin, as is the smoked salmon, which also
adds richness to the salad (you can substitute smoked chicken or shellfish or
raw tune). Everything else is playful: crunchy blanched harticots verts and
sliced celery, fennel and red onion, as well as slivered green and black olives.
All but the assembly can be done a day in advance.
At the last minute I dress the salad. I could make a vinaigrette, but this is so
light that I prefer to toss it first with a medium-fruity olive oil and a good
pinch of salt and pepper, and finally with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a
little basil cut in chiffonade. The basil can be just a garnish, but adding it
with the dressing keeps
the flavor integrated within the dish.
You can make this salad much more elaborate by rolling all the vegetables into a
big sheet of smoked salmon and serving it cut into slices. But at its simplest,
it’s a perfect light way to start a meal that will become progressively richer.”
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 1 1/2 hours
1/2 bunch parsley
4 artichokes, each slightly larger than a baseball
8 tablespoons (approximately) high-quality
extra-virgin olive oil,
or as needed
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery; 1 chopped,
1 cut in fine julienne
1/2 apple, chopped
1 small bulb fennel; 1/2 chopped,
1/2 cut in fine julienne
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 large or 3 small bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cup haricots verts, blanched
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced paper-thin
3 tablespoons pitted, slivered Kalamata olives
2 heaping tablespoons Spanish
arbequina olives, quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 ounces smoked salmon, julienned
3 to 4 basil leaves, shredded
Place parsley in a large bowl of water. Trim artichokes of stems and leaves,
leaving only smooth bottoms with prickly centers inside, and
place in water.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.
Add carrot, onion, chopped celery, apple, chopped fennel, and garlic.
Cover and sweat until softened, about 10 minutes. Lay artichokes on
top of vegetables. Cover and steam for 10 minutes, turning 2 or 3
Add bay leaves, peppercorns, and 1/2 cup water. Cover and
until very tender, 30 minutes. Let cool.
3. Scoop out artichoke hearts, pat dry, and cut crosswise into thin strips.
Place in a large bowl. Cut haricots verts into smaller pieces and add
with remaining celery and fennel, red onion, and olives.
Toss to combine.
4. Drizzle salad with 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons oil and toss. Add a good pinch
of salt and pepper, and toss. Squeeze lemon juice over and toss again.
smoked salmon and basil over, and mix gently so fish does not
break up, Divide
among 4 salad plates, drizzle a little oil around each,
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from Chef Charlie Trotter:
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