Grilled Onion Flatbread with Fennel-cured Salmon and Chive Creme Fraiche
Onion flatbread is served with paper-thin slices of cured salmon, an herb salad, and creme fraiche. This is a wonderful dish to prepare ahead of time, then grill and assemble at the last minute. The salmon is a variation on gravlax, cured with fennel instead of dill. It needs 3 to 4 days to cure completely. The creme fraiche is mixed and then rests in a warm place for 18 to 24 hours; the chives and onions are stirred in at the last minute. The flatbread dough is mixed and kneaded, then rests in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours, then rewarmed to room temperature before shaping and grilling. Note that each part of the recipe can be spun off and used elsewhere. Chef Ogden suggests using Norwegian salmon for its high fat content.
- Fennel-cured Salmon
- Freshly cracked black pepper - 2 tablespoons
- Kosher salt - 4 tablespoons
- Granulated Sugar - 4 tablespoons
- Fresh fennel - 2 bunches
- Fresh salmon fillets - 1-1/4 pounds
- Chive Creme Fraiche
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 cups
- Buttermilk - 2 tablespoons
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Bread flour - 1 pound
- Fresh Cake Yeast - 1 teaspoon
- Kosher salt - 2 tablespoons
- Olive Oil - 4 teaspoons
- Onion - 1/3 cup, diced
- Chives - 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Scallions - 1/8 cup, chopped
- Cold Water - 1-1/8 cups
- Olive Oil - 1/4 - 1/3 cup
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- To finish the bread:
- Flour to dust the work surface
- Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
- Kosher salt - 2 tablespoons
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Herb Salad
- Chives - 6, chopped
- Fresh opal basil sprigs - 4
- Fennel Fronds - 2
- Tarragon Sprigs - 2
- Arugula - 1 cup
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- To finish the creme fraiche:
- Chives - 1/2 cup, minced
- Red Onion - 1/4 cup, minced, patted dry
To cure the salmon: Combine the pepper, salt, and sugar in a small dish. Lay a large piece of cheese cloth on a large piece of aluminum foil and spread half of the seasonings on it. Spread with 1 bunch of the fennel. Place the salmon, skin-side down, on top of the fennel. Spread the other bunch of fennel over the top of the salmon, then sprinkle with the remaining seasonings. Wrap the cheese cloth tightly around the salmon, then seal in the foil, put on a baking sheet, and place a heavy weight on top. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Drain off the juice that accumulates. Re-cover and marinate for another night. Repeat this procedure; the fish should marinate for 3 to 4 nights.
To prepare the creme fraiche: Stir the cream, buttermilk, and salt together in a small bowl. Cover the bowl loosely with wax paper or plastic wrap, but do not seal. Set the bowl in a warm place, 75 to 85 F. Check after 18 to 24 hours; the cream should have thickened and taken on a pleasing nutty flavor. If it has not, let it rest for 6 more hours and test again. When ready, stir it up, cover tightly, and refrigerate. This cream will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
To prepare the bread: Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the flour in the large mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Crumble in the yeast. Add the salt, olive oil, onions, chives, scallions, and water. Mix with the dough hook until smooth but not sticky, adding additional flour if necessary. The mixing will take about 10 minutes at medium speed; the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl when it is ready.
Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, and you can see small bubbles stretched at or just under the surface. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Moisten your hands with a little olive oil and wipe all surfaces of the dough pieces with a light coating of oil to keep the dough moist. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheets and put in the refrigerator to rise 4 to 6 hours. The dough is through rising when a finger pressed into the surface leaves a dent.
Let the dough warm to room temperature before shaping.
Light and preheat a charcoal, wood, or gas grill. Shape each of the pieces of dough into a thin (just over 1/4-inch thick) oval on a floured surface. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush the grill surface with a little olive oil. Put the dough on the grill and cook about 5 minutes, turning once, until done through. Set aside on a warmed plate.
To prepare the salad: Combine the greens and herbs and drizzle with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and the lemon juice. Toss.
To serve: Unwrap and drain the salmon, brushing off the fennel and seasonings. Rinse and place on a cutting board. Slice on the diagonal paper-thin. Add the chives and onions to the creme fraiche and spread over the grilled bread, reserving a little of the creme fraiche. Cut each piece of bread into several pieces and arrange in a semi-circle on warmed plates. Ruffle salmon slices and fill in the center of the semi-circle. Sprinkle herb salad over the flatbread. Place a dollop of creme fraiche beside the salmon on each plate.