January 22, 2011
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The technique for making this gluten-free adaptation of a French Canadian classic is the same as for Irish Scallop Pie or Shepherd’s Pie. The basic elements are a chopped or shredded protein with vegetables in a sauce, in this case seasoned béchamel, with a mashed potato topping. While the traditional version of the pie contains salmon and potatoes in a double pastry crust, I have deconstructed it to make it gluten-free. With the potatoes as a topping I needed a bit of binder for the salmon mixture so I used corn flakes chopped in a food processor. If gluten is not a problem you could use breadcrumbs instead. For a bit of a twist I added half a rutabaga to the potatoes and, to round out a one-dish meal, some peas and pearl onions to the fish. Incidentally, whenever I buy fresh salmon I cut it into filets and save trimmings in a freezer bag until I have enough to use in a recipe like this. You could use canned salmon which is what often goes into French Canadian salmon pies, at least in New England.
- 2 medium russet (baking) potatoes
- ½ medium rutabaga
- 12 ounces salmon
- 1 Tbsp. butter plus more as in directions
- 1 Tbsp. flour, I use rice flour
- 1 cup milk, I use skim
- ½ tsp. Old Bay® seasoning
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
- ½ cup unsweetened corn flakes chopped in a food processor or ¼ cup bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper
Peel the rutabaga and potatoes then cut into 1-inch cubes. Put the rutabaga into a large pot of boiling salted water then after 5 minutes add the potatoes. Cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables can be pierced easily with a small knife. Be sure to check both the potatoes and rutabaga because they do not cook at the same rate. Drain, leaving about ¼ cup of the boiling water in the pot, then mash. Mix thoroughly with a fork, mixing in a bit of butter if you wish. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cook the salmon in a steamer basket over boiling water until done, about 10 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350° (325° for convection). Lightly butter a deep 8-inch pie plate.
Over medium-low heat melt the 1 Tbsp. of butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour. Cook for about 1 minute then, whisking constantly, start adding the milk a bit at a time letting it come just to a boil before the next addition. When you have added all the milk and let the sauce thicken, stir in the Old Bay® and dill. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. (I used a bit of alder-smoked salt the my niece-in-law Sara gave me for Christmas!)
Using a fork or your fingers, break the salmon into smallish flakes. Mix in the corn flakes or bread crumbs then the peas and onions. Fold in the sauce and turn into the pie pan. Spread the potatoes over the top and dot with butter. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown.