In an article entitled “The Ultimate New Year’s Eve,” which appeared in the Wine Enthusiast in 2000, food writer Florence Fabricant shared her menu for the perfect New Year’s Eve dinner. Luxurious is an understatement for the array of courses that included oysters, borscht, mushroom and foie gras piroskis, and these elegant French-style sautéed sandwiches, the recipe for which was adapted from Eric Ripert, chef at Le Bernardin, in New York City.
The elegance of caviar and salmon calls for a classically structured vintage or nonvintage Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne; recommended producers include Deutz, Lanson and De Saint Gall.
- 3/4 (12 tablespoons) cup clarified butter (see below)
- 24 thin slices of fine-textured white bread, crusts removed
- 9 ounces Gruyère cheese, sliced paper thin
- 10 to 12 ounces Caspian Sea Osetra or sevruga caviar, or a good American sturgeon caviar
- 12 slices smoked Atlantic salmon (about 1/2 pound)
Place the bread on a work surface. Cover 12 slices with a single layer of cheese. Spread a thin layer of caviar on the cheese. Cover with the salmon, trimmed to fit exactly to the edge of the bread. Top each sandwich with remaining slices of bread.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the clarified butter in a large nonstick skillet. Place several sandwiches in the skillet in a single layer and sauté over medium heat, pressing down very gently with a spatula (but not forcing any of the caviar to ooze out) until lightly browned on one side. Add a little more butter, turn the sandwiches, and brown the second side. Remove the sandwiches to a warm platter and repeat until all sandwiches are fried.
To serve, cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal, arrange on a serving platter, and serve while still warm.
Editor’s Note: To clarify butter, slowly melt 2 sticks cut-up unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. As the butter melts, the milk solids will sink to the bottom, with a layer of clear butter on top. Carefully pour the clear—clarified—butter into a bowl, discarding the milk solids in the pan. Clarified butter is preferred here because when used for sautéing it burns less rapidly than butter with the milk solids in tact.