Gravlax With Beet Tartare
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white peppercorns
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 pounds center-cut salmon fillet skin left intact
- 2 ounces fresh dill sprigs
- 6 medium beets greens removed, and reserved for another use
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely-chopped cornichons
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- Salt to taste
- Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the peppercorns coarsely. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the sugar and salt.
Lay the salmon, skin-side down, on a clean work surface. Carefully run your fingers against the grain to feel for bones and expose the tip of each bone, if any. Using a pair of pliers or tweezers, hold the salmon firmly and remove and discard the bones. Cut the salmon fillet in half crosswise. Sprinkle the salmon evenly with the seasoning mixture.
Place a generous layer of dill sprigs over the bottom of a flat dish large enough to hold 1 of the salmon fillets. Place 1 fillet, skin-side down, on the dill and then cover with a generous amount of dill. Place the other fillet, skin-side side up, over the dill. Cover with the remaining dill and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place a smaller flat dish on top of the salmon and add weights, about 5 pounds. Refrigerate for 48 hours.
Every 12 hours, remove the weights, the top dish and the plastic wrap. Carefully flip the stacked salmon fillets, then wrap again with plastic and set the dish and weights on top.
Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Remove the stem end from each beet and cut the beets into quarters. Arrange in a single layer in a roasting pan and roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 2 hours. When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Working in batches, transfer the beets to a food processor and chop coarsely.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the beets, shallot, cornichons, mayonnaise, horseradish, parsley, vinegar, salt and pepper and toss to mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Just before serving, scrape all the dill off the salmon and pat the fillets dry. Using a long, thin-bladed, flexible carving knife, carve the salmon on the diagonal into very thin slices, cutting away the skin. Serve the beet tartare alongside.
This recipe yields 8 to 10 servings.