Salmon Coulibiac

"Coulibiac" is a French-inspired dish from Russia that originated around 1900 and is perfect for dinner parties. The word itself translates to "fish pie," and the dish consists of layers of fish, rice, and veggies wrapped up in a puff pastry loaf.


Watch me put this recipe together using salmon, orzo, and spinach enveloped in puff pastry with a beautiful latticework design on top.

Ingredients
  • 1 (48 fl. oz.) container chicken broth
  • 1 small bottle olive oil
  • 2 cups dry orzo (a pasta shaped like rice)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 12 cups raw spinach
  • 1/4 cup cream sherry
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages sliced white mushrooms
  • 3 large sheets puff pastry (2 - 1.1 lb. packages Pepperidge Farm each with 2 sheets)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 lb. salmon fillet, skinned and deboned
  • Salt and pepper
Directions

Pour chicken broth and 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large pot and bring to boil over high heat. Add orzo and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and pour into a medium bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large skillet over medium high heat until butter melts. Add onions and saute until they start to brown. Stir in brown sugar and cook for 2 minutes more until sugar caramelizes. Remove from heart and stir into orzo until combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add spinach. Allow spinach to cook down a bit, stirring frequently. Continue to add remaining spinach and cook until spinach has reduced to half the initial amount. Add more oil if necessary should the spinach stick to the pan. Add sherry and cook until sherry reduces by one-third. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in cream. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cream thickens, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl.

Add remaining tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a large skillet over medium high heat until butter melts. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into spinach until incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit a large baking sheet. Tip: Use pea-size scraps of puff pastry under the corners of the parchment to adhere it to the baking sheet.

Allow puff pastry to thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes or until it is easy to handle. Place a 10 x 15 inch sheet of puff pastry on work surface and roll out the sheet to where its dimensions are about 3 inches wider and longer than the salmon. Brush the surface of the puff pastry with beaten egg. Center the salmon on the puff pastry. Spoon the orzo on top of the salmon in a compact even layer. Spoon the spinach on top of the orzo in a compact even layer. Brush the exposed area of the puff pastry with beaten egg and bring it up on to the salmon on all sides.

Roll out another sheet of puff pastry large enough so that it will drape completely over the layered ingredients on the salmon with excess pastry to tuck underneath. Center the puff pastry sheet over the salmon and place it over the layered ingredients. Lift the edges of the puff pastry and brush the underside with egg. Tuck the edges neatly under the salmon so you have a compact and completely sealed loaf.

To create the latticework design on top, roll out the remaining puff pastry just a bit to smooth any package creases. Cut 1-inch wide x 10-inch long strips. Brush the surface of the salmon loaf with egg. Then, brush each strip with a lightly beaten egg and place each strip, spaced 1 inch apart, over the salmon diagonally. Interweave the strips 1 inch apart on the opposing diagonal into a latticework pattern. Cut ivy leaves from the remaining puff pastry and brush with egg; apply to the latticework pattern. You can prepare the Coulibiac up to this point on the same day you are planning to serve it. Wrap the prepared loaf with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

About 45 minutes before serving, heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the surface of the pastry with beaten egg. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove Coulibiac from the oven and let it rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes. You can gently place the entire Coulibiac on a large platter and serve family style for a fabulous presentation. Or slice the loaf into 1 -inch wide portions and use a spatula to place each slice on individual plates. Serve hot with a white wine cream sauce.

Makes:

6 to 8 servings

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