Dining with Chefs: Executive Chef Dustin Lewandowski
Brasserie PUCK (Part 2 of 2)
Next, we tried an amazingly delicate yet full-flavored appetizer, the Smoked Salmon and Rillettes of Salmon en Terrine, which was served in a beautiful presentation that matched perfectly its beautiful, melts-in-your-mouth flavor. "It’s a joy to make," Chef Lewandowski said of the salmon. "It's such a fun, traditional French dish. As the chef, getting to create the art form of terrines is a lot of fun. We take smoked salmon and we buy sides of Loch Duart salmon, then we cure them and smoke them at one of our sister restaurants, Spago. They have the smoker in-house and can do that for us. Wolfgang has always loved using smoked salmon on his menu, ever since his creation of the smoked salmon pizza 25 years ago. We buy that smoked salmon and we also create salmon rillets, which is made again from the Loch Duart Scottish salmon. We season it with salt, pepper and lemon and then we steam it until it's about medium rare, then immediately cool it. When it's cool, we transfer it to a bowl and with forks we pull the meat apart and flake it until it's completely pulled apart. Then we add butter, crème fraiche, a little bit of olive oil and fine herbs, including chopped parsley, dill, tarragon and chervil. Then we take a wooden spoon and we emulsify that into a bowl until all the fat recombines with the meat, all the flavors are infused to it and it becomes a nice smooth mixture. We line a terrine mold with plastic wrap and we take layers of thinly sliced smoked salmon and layers of the smooth salmon rillete, then we repeat that process until we've achieved seven layers of each. Then we press it into the terrine mold and let it set overnight until it sets up completely. After that we can un-mold it and slice it. It's very flavor-intensive. We're very happy with the results; it’s a very nice flavor combination. To plate it, we take a slice of the salmon terrine and we serve it with a mache salad that is lightly dressed with lemon and olive oil. To garnish the plate, we take crème fraiche that has been whipped and we fold some chopped dill into it, then we form a quenelle of that dill crème fraiche and put it on the plate. We serve it with toasted house-made brioche and we garnish it with some sliced radishes, red onions, capers and some lemon slices. It's done very well. Some people are slightly intimidated by it, of course, but the people who do eat it absolutely love it. If you like smoked salmon, you can't beat it."