The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.
I have had fun making other 'en croute' applications in addition to the challenge, which is Salmon en Croute. I have tried a pear en croute for a tapa and a sausage en croute, which we would call Pigs in Blankets. Anything wrapped in a pastry is an 'en croute' method. This would work equally well with Arctic Char or rainbow trout.
If you are cooking for one, as I am, then make a half recipe of the pastry. This will give you plenty for 2 servings. If your salmon was fresh when you bought it, then you can make up the extra serving and freeze, uncooked and wrapped in the pastry. Defrost in the refrigerator for about 8-12 hours and then cook as directed. This will make a lovely dinner when you know you will be working late. Just remove it from the refrigerator before you go to work in the morning, or the night before.
Also, when cooking for one, feel free to make substitutions. I didn't want $4 worth of leeks just to make this recipe. So I opted for the green onions I had at home. I also used dried mixed wild mushrooms rather than buying fresh. This not only gives less waste but it is more convenient. In the sauce, I substituted the water I used to reconstitute the mushrooms rather than clam juice. If you had fish stock in the freezer, you could use that rather than clam juice. Clam juice is actually just an easy substitute for fish stock.
I had a little bit of extra pastry, so I rolled it out, placed a slice of prosciutto on it and then filled it with the rest of my wild rice. I folded it into a package and baked with the salmon. I could have put it in the freezer for another time, but I wanted to see if it tasted good.
Salmon and Wild Rice Wrapped in Pastry and Served with Dill Sauce
1/2 cup wild rice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup minced leek (white and pale green parts only)
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, chopped
4 6-ounce (4x2 1/2-inch) skinless salmon fillet
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2/3 cup bottled clam juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cups crème fraîche or whipping cream
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
For salmon, rice, pastry:
Bring medium saucepan of salted water to boil. Add rice; boil uncovered until just tender, about 40 minutes. Drain.
Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add leek; sauté until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cover skillet; cook until mushrooms release their juices, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Uncover skillet. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté until liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Add rice. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely.
Butter large baking sheet. Roll out 1 pastry on floured surface to 12-inch square. Cut into 4 equal squares. Divide rice mixture among centers of squares, mounding in oval shape with ends toward 2 corners of pastry. Set salmon atop rice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring pastry corners up around salmon (pastry will not enclose salmon completely.) Roll out remaining pastry sheet on floured surface to 13-inch square. Cut into 4 equal squares. Lay 1 square atop each salmon fillet, tucking corners under bottom pastry to enclose salmon completely. Pinch edges together to seal, brushing with egg mixture if necessary to adhere. Arrange salmon packages, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Cover and chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush top of pastry with egg mixture. Bake until golden and thermometer inserted into fish registers 145°F, about 30 minutes.
For dill sauce:
Combine clam juice and wine in heavy small non-aluminum saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 9 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Whisk in crème fraîche. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in dill. Season with salt and pepper.
If crème fraîche is unavailable, heat 1 cup whipping cream to lukewarm (85°F). Remove from heat and mix in 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Cover and let stand in warm draft-free area until slightly thickened (24 to 48 hours, depending on temperature of room). Refrigerate until ready to use.
Transfer salmon packages to plates. Spoon Dill Sauce around and serve.
Sour Cream Pastry2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 " cubes
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups well-chilled sour cream
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
To blend by hand:
In a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend together flour, butter, and salt until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with remainder in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Stir in sour cream with a fork just until incorporated. Drizzle 4 tablespoons ice water over mixture and gently stir just until incorporated. Test mixture by gently squeezing a small handful: When it has proper texture it should hold together without crumbling apart. If necessary, add enough remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated and testing, to give mixture proper texture. (If you overwork mixture or add too much water, pastry will be tough.)
To blend in a food processor:
In a food processor pulse together flour, butter, and salt until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with remainder in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Add sour cream and pulse just until incorporated. Drizzle 4 tablespoons water over mixture and pulse just until incorporated. Test mixture by gently squeezing a small handful: When it has proper texture it should hold together without crumbling apart. If necessary, add enough remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until incorporated and testing, to give mixture proper texture. (If you overwork mixture or add too much water, pastry will be tough.)
To form dough after blending by either method:
Turn mixture out onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of hand smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together and form it, rotating it on work surface, into a disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour, and up to 1 day.