A classic savory Russian pie that is constructed by layering coucous, salmon, spinach, mushrooms, and dill. It is a traditional Yule holiday dish in Russia because it looks like a present: red (salmon) and green (spinach), all gift-wrapped in puff pastry. Although it can be made early in the day, it is best baked fresh for the meal. It is a wonderful fish dish for entertaining friends and family. It could be served plated or on a buffet, and can be served at room temperature of needed.
3 cups pre-boiled Couscous
6 cups of water for cooking Couscous
2 cups butter
½ cup finely chopped onions
½ tsp of minced garlic
2-½ lbs of fresh clean spinach
3 cups finely chopped mushrooms
(I like to use chanterelles for their nutty flavor, but any wild mushrooms work.)
6lb filet of skinned salmon
Salt and pepper
1 cup finely chopped fresh dill
Frozen puff pastry (defrosted)
For glaze for pastry:
1 egg and 1 tsp of milk
Champagne Beurre Blanc (see recipe below)
In saucepan, combine couscous and water, cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender and water has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Uncover and, using fork, toss lightly with 2 tbsp butter. Let cool.
In skillet, melt remaining butter; sauté onions and mushrooms until soft, about 5 minutes. Place mushroom mixture aside. In same skillet, sauté fresh spinach with 3 tbs of olive oil and ½ tsp of minced garlic. Place spinach aside. Skin salmon fillets (if not already done) and pull out any small pin bones if any.
On a metal baking sheet large enough to have an 8-inch space around salmon, layout a baking sheet paper so it will be easy to remove coulibiac once it is cooked. On top of the baking sheet paper, layout the puff pastry so that it covers the entire baking sheet. In the center of the baking sheet, vertically place couscous (shape it to mimic the filet of salmon). Season this and each layer with salt and pepper. Place the filet of salmon on top of couscous. Then spread the onion mushroom mixture next, and then sautéed spinach, making an even layer. Sprinkle with dill. In the center of your baking sheet you should have all the filling ingredients tightly layered neatly on top of each other and ready for you to begin to close the puff pastry.
To begin to close the puff pastry, whisk together the egg and milk and brush over the edge of pastry. Fold the sides over the filling toward the center and turn under to seal. Brush with glaze. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. If you have a thermometer, you can remove from the oven till the internal temperature of the coulibiac reads 150 degrees. Serve with Champagne buerre blanc and garnish with dill.
Champagne Beurre Blanc
2 cups of brut champagne
¼ cup shallots
2-3 teaspoon salt (to taste)
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
Cut the butter into 1-ounce pieces and keep chilled. Boil the champagne fiercely over a high flame, with the shallots and seasonings, until the pan is very nearly dry. Whisk butter into the hot, damp shallots, still over a high flame. When all the butter is absorbed, remove the pan from the heat, let cool briefly, and strain into a sauce boat. Serve at once.
Yield: 1 cup