Here it is, the number one most-requested hors d’oeuvre at parties: pigs in puff pastry blankets. As a caterer who takes pride in imprinting dishes with my distinct spin, I was thrilled to remake this party workhorse. My rendition is smoked salmon “pigs” with wasabi caviar “blankets” perched above a field of living wheatgrass. I love how the New York Times described it in a feature: “This little pig went, well, a little crazy.” I like to serve it with the classic version to satisfy the traditionalists. We have also cut the salmon and bread with an Oscar-shaped cutter for Academy Awards parties. If you can’t find wasabi caviar, substitute very finely chopped fresh dill.
|1 12-ounce package all-beef cocktail franks||1 tablespoon grated lemon zest|
|1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed||12 slices pumpernickel bread|
|1 large egg||12 ounces sliced smoked salmon, such as lox|
|2 tablespoons Dijon mustard||24 black sesame seeds|
|4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature||2 ounces wasabi caviar (or 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill)|
|1 teaspoon brine-packed capers, drained and finely chopped|
Remove the cocktail franks from the package and place them on a paper-towel-lined plate to absorb any extra moisture.
Place the puff pastry on a cutting board and slice it into twenty-four 2-inch-long, ¾-inch-wide strips.
Place a frank horizontally in the center of a strip. Bring the edges of the pastry over the frank, pinch together, and set the pastry, seam side down, on a parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining franks and puff strips, placing the pigs in blankets about 1 inch apart.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer and chill for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon water with the egg to make an egg wash.
Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and brush the egg wash over the pastry. Bake, rotating the pan midway through, until the pastry is golden brown, about 24 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, stir the butter, capers, and lemon zest together. Set aside.
Using a 2-inch pig-shaped cookie cutter, cut the bread and the salmon into 24 bread pig shapes and 24 salmon pig shapes. Spread one side of each piece of bread with ¼ teaspoon of the lemon-caper butter.
Carefully lay a piece of pig-shaped smoked salmon over the buttered bread. Place a sesame seed where the eye should be. Make a stripe of caviar down the middle of each pig’s belly (see photo, opposite) with ¼ teaspoon of the wasabi caviar.
Serve the traditional pigs in blankets with a dot of mustard on each. Serve the pigs in a field standing in a tray of wheatgrass (or print a picture of grass and place it beneath a piece of glass or clear acrylic and serve the salmon-wasabi pigs on top).
Traditional pigs in blankets can be kept frozen for 1 month. The lemon-caper butter can be made 1 week ahead; cover and refrigerate. The smoked salmon–wasabi pigs can be assembled and refrigerated for several hours before serving.
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