What to Cook: Belgian Endive & Smoked Cod Salad with Beets & Walnut Vinaigrette

My dad gave me a stovetop smoker a few years ago, and I like to use it for smoking duck breasts, pork tenderloins, and fish. It's a hot smoker with a simple design, easy to use and clean, and not too expensive either. Order one at Cameronsproducts.com, or just order the fine wood chips - I like alderwood - and rig up your own smoker: Lay a square of aluminium foil flat on the bottom of a kettle or wide pot. Put a spoonful of wood chips on the foil, make 3 little foil balls to set around the wood chips, and balance a lightly oiled baking dish, like a cake pan or pie tin, on the foil balls. Put whatever you're going to smoke in the baking dish, put the whole contraption on a burner, cover the kettle, and start smoking over medium-low heat. Unlike cold smoking, hot smoking fully cooks the food, so check for doneness in the usual way: cut in and take a peek.

Makes 6 servings

1 bunch red beets
2 tsp red wine vinegar
good olive oil
12 ounces fish fillet - black cod, ling cod, or other flaky but not super-delicate fish
1 tsp brown sugar
leaves from 6 thyme sprigs
3 Belgian endive heads - white, red, or a combination
1 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp chopped chervil or 1 tsp chopped tarragon
1/3 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
freshly ground black pepper

For the walnut vinaigrette
1 shallot, finely diced
? tsp salt
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp toasted walnuts
? cup good olive oil

To make the dressing, mix the shallot, salt, and vinegars together in a small bowl and let marinate for a few minutes. Crush the walnuts nearly to a paste in a mortar or with the side of a chef's knife, add them to the shallot-vinegar mixture, and stir in the oil. Taste and adjust.

Cut the greens off the beets and save them, if they're in good shape, for another use. Rinse the beets thoroughly and boil them in well-salted water or, even better, roast them. Using your hands, slip the skins off the cooled beets and cut them into quarters. Pur?e them in a food processor, blender, or food mill and mix in the red wine vinegar, - cup oil, and - tsp salt. Taste, adjust, and set aside.


Meanwhile, season the fish with - tsp salt and the brown sugar and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes to let the seasoning soak in. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and sprinkle it with the thyme leaves, pressing them on with your fingers. Smoke the fish (see introduction) and set it aside to cool.

Separate the Belgian endive leaves by cutting a small slice off the bottom, then pulling off the leaves that are released. Continue cutting and pulling leaves until they are all loose. Put them in a mixing bowl with the chopped herbs and walnuts and dress with most of the vinaigrette and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust. Spread the beet pur?e on a large serving platter, using the back of a spoon to swirl it out nearly to the edges, and arrange the Belgian endive leaves on top. Break the smoked fish into pieces and sprinkle it over the salad. Spoon the remaining vinaigrette over and serve.


Extracted from A Recipe for Cooking by Cal Peternell. Copyright - 2016 by Cal Peternell. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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