THIS WEEK’S RECIPE: BLUEFISH PÂTÉ
For some, the arrival of spring means hay fever, but for me, it means I finally get over my chief seasonal affliction: food hoarding. Now, I realize the point of canning and freezing is to be able to indulge in peak tomatoes come winter, but I just never can convince myself to use up those last few preserved goodies from the previous year until I can see another growing season right around the bend.
We’ve still got some crisp nights and days ahead, but the chill has eased enough that I cracked open my final jar of canned tomatoes from the backyard last week. And this week I thawed the next to last of the bluefish fillets we caught last summer in the Gulf of Maine. Bluefish is great grilled (or roasted with potatoes and tomatoes in olive oil), but a cold pâté with cheese and crackers on the patio seemed like the perfect way to welcome spring. I found this recipe in the archives of The New York Times. For ease, we skipped the stovetop smoker in favor of grilling, which worked just fine, although we did throw some on some wood chips for a dash of smoky flavor.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
» 1 cup wood chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes (I used alder wood)
» ½ pound skin-on bluefish fillets
» 1 Tbsp extravirgin olive oil
» salt and pepper for seasoning
» 4 oz cream cheese
» 2 Tbsp butter
» 1 Tbsp spirit (NYT called for Cognac, but I substituted Cointreau, which dovetailed nicely with the citrus)
» 1 Tbsp minced red onion
» 1 lemon
» hot sauce to taste
WHAT TO DO
Season the fish with salt and pepper and massage in the olive oil. Make an aluminum foil packet of the soaked wood chips; for an extra flavor shot, you can lay the soaked chips directly on the grill. When the grill is hot, add the fish, flesh side down, and cook covered for 4 minutes. (If you’re using a charcoal grill, cook the fish directly over the coals.) Flip the fish and cook 6 minutes more. (On a charcoal grill, transfer the fish away from the hot coals for side 2.) Remove, check for doneness, and let the fish come to room temp.
To make the pâté, flake the bluefish into a food processor, discarding the skin and bones. Add the cream cheese, butter, and spirit, and pulse to combine. Add the onions, the juice of half a lemon, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Pulse again. Season as desired with additional lemon juice and/or hot sauce. Serve immediately, or after chilling, on crackers or toast. (Just a note that this also makes one decadent tuna-fish-style sandwich.) You can store the pâté in an airtight container for a day or two in the fridge. Happy eating—and happy spring!
UPDATE: While the recipe recommended serving this immediately, I liked it even better after a day in the fridge. The extra chill time made for a much more pâté-like consistency. Yum!
With many farm shares winding down for the season, we’ve put the CSA Cookoff to bed for the year. Look for it again in late spring, sprouting along with the arugula and asparagus. In the meantime, meet HOME Cooked, a winter-friendly recipe file that revels in the earthier corners of the fridge and the pantry. Think root veggies and baked goods. We’ll post a recipe each week, featuring dishes from you. Don’t be shy. Share the goods. Especially the baked goods.