Smoked Trout with Horseradish Crème Fraîche

by Chef Mark Tafoya

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There is something delightfully elegant and familiar about this recipe.  The components — wonderfully fresh, deliciously comforting, and hauntingly common — come together in a way that will have your guests saying they’ve had this dish before, but they can’t remember where or when…

Makes about 30 toast points; serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer

Ingredients

15 small slices (hors d’oeuvres size) or 8 sandwich slices of bread for toast points (in the Test Kitchen we used light rye, with great success)
1 fresh, unpeeled head of garlic (choose a fresh head that is firm and not sprouting)
¼ cup flavorful, good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon water
2 cups smoked trout (or other smoked white fish)
¼ cup grated fresh horseradish
1 tablespoon roasted garlic purée (see preparation below)
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup crème fraîche
Drizzle of mild honey (approximately ½ teaspoon, or to taste)
Course sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Chives, for garnish

Preparation

Prepare the roasted garlic puree:
Preheat oven to 325° F.  Cut the top of the garlic head off with a sharp knife.  Place in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon water, and season with salt and pepper.  Wrap the garlic with the aluminum foil and bake until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes.

Press the cooked garlic cloves out of the skins into a bowl.  Mash them with the back of a fork.  [Chef’s Note:  One large head garlic yields about 3 tablespoons purée.]

Prepare the toast points:
Cut the crusts from the bread.  Cut each slice in half on the diagonal (for hors d’oeuvres-sized breads) or in fourths on the diagonal (for full-sized bread).  Lightly brush each slice with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.  Place under the broiler (about 8 inches from the heat source) and toast, about 2 minutes.  Take care not to burn.

Prepare the smoked trout:
Place the fish in a large bowl.  Using a fork, break any large chunks of fish into flakes.  Set aside.

Prepare the mixture:
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the horseradish, roasted garlic purée, shallots, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard.  Process until all ingredients are puréed and well combined.  Scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl and add the crème fraîche.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Taste.  Add the honey, salt and pepper.  Pulse to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Add half of this mixture to the trout and mix.  The fish should hold together, but not be too moist.

Service

Spread one heaping teaspoon of the trout mixture onto each toast point.  Add a small dollop of the remaining crème fraîche on top.  Garnish with chives.

Recipe and photo by Donna Marie Zotter

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