New home page - an impressive Coulibiac. This is a free-form pie of salmon, rice, mushrooms and dill, wrapped in a brioche pastry, made to feed eight to ten. Originally Russian (Koulibiaka), it was refined for the classic French repertoire (see Escoffier) when French culture had a craze for all things Russian, such as ballet, samovars and Fabergé. (A Koulibiaka is in essence a large pirogi and might contain cabbage, a humble ingredient rare, if ever, seen in la cuisine française classique.)
My niece and I had a session recently to re-acquaint ourselves with its construction. Making a Coulibiac is certainly a "project" but an easy one, prepared ahead, cooked or re-heated for serving. Any stress from preparing its various components is compensated for by its easy (and stress free) finale. It's a fully integrated course, protein, vegetables, carbs all in a neat package! With a butter sauce or sour cream on the side, it's all you need.
When I had my restaurant, I encouraged my staff to hunt out old copies of the wonderful Time-Life Foods of the World series - (second-hand book stores, junk shops, garage sales). Anyone who dumped his or her copies in the eighties is sure regretting it now! The Classic French Cooking volume gives three A4 pages of dense recipe and instructions for Coulibiac, photographs extra. The salmon is poached in cream first, dill pancakes are prepared and used to wrap the layered filling, every layer is clearly defined, a brioche mousseline encases the whole. STOP! Our version is the "Readers Digest" of recipes and loses nothing in looks and flavour.
The melding of ingredients in a Coulibiac is a definition of "synergy".
It's an old-fashioned recipe. It's an entire meal. Craig Claiborne, restaurant critic, food writer and editor of the N.Y. Times said in 1976 "To my mind, it's the world's greatest dish".
It's a show stopper. Ours sits on an excessive bed of fresh flat leaf parsley - just because it was growing madly in the garden. Try it and let me know your results.
Coulibiac (Will generously feed up to eight or more.)
Filling - make this first
Olive oil for cooking
250 gm mushrooms sliced
200 gm (1 cup) long grain rice
2 eggs, hard boiled
1.5 kg salmon or ocean trout, skin off, fillet or pieces
1 – 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried)
Brioche - make this the day of assembly
1 tbsp dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp sugar
550gm plain flour
80 gm butter, soft and cut into pieces
Extra egg for egg wash
Use the mixing bowl of a Kitchen Aid or large Magimix.
Close the ends neatly, tuck them under, cutting away any excess dough.
Glaze the Coulibiac with the egg wash and prick it attractively all over with a fork.
Now's the time to get creative, if you wish, with left over dough, decorating the top with leaves, flowers or fish.
Place the Coulibiac in the refrigerator for 1/2 an hour or for several hours until you're ready to bake it. Allow about 40 minutes, 180˚C (fan) or until the pastry is nicely golden.
Let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving, having put it on an attractive oval platter.
Prepare a melted butter sauce, a beurre blanc or a bowl of sour cream to be passed around.
Cut the Coulibiac into slices about 2 cm thick and place in the centre of each plate. This can be done at the table. It's very rich. Second helpings may be possible. It needs nothing else, although green beans or asparagus would suit.
Let me know how you went. Do you need a beurre blanc recipe? Comment below.