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This year, Lori Baker and Jeff Banker started serving fine-dining brunch at their lower Pac Heights restaurant, Baker & Banker. One of the stand-outs is their house-smoked trout on top of a potato latke with pickled beets and a pile of shaved fennel. While their secret to smoking trout is still hush-hush, you can get a high-quality version at most grocery stores to recreate the dish at home.
1/4 pound baby red and chioggia beets
1/2 sprig rosemary
1/2 sprig thyme
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound small baking potatoes, peeled
1/2 small onion
1 large egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 bulb fennel with fonds reserved.
1. Preheat oven to 350. Put beets in a roasting pan with herbs, 1 tablespoon water, oil, and salt. Cover tightly with foil, and roast in oven for 30 minutes or until tender. Let beets cool slightly, and peel off skin with a towel while still warm. Cut each beet into six equally sized wedges. Bring rice vinegar, remaining water, sugar, salt, and pepper to a boil in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Pour hot pickling liquid over beets, and cool to room temperature. Drain, reserving the pickling liquid, and set aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk sour cream, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper until just combined. Set aside.
3. Using the large holes of a box grater or the shredding disk of a food processor, grate the potatoes and onion. Working over a small bowl, squeeze the liquid out of the potato and onion, and transfer the grated vegetables to a medium bowl. Let the liquid stand for 1 minute, and then pour it off, leaving the potato starch at the bottom. Scrape the starch into the potato shreds. Add the eggs, flour, and salt to the bowl.
4. Line one wire rack with paper towels. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil until shimmering. For each pancake, add a scant 1/4 cup of the potato batter to the skillet, and flatten slightly. You should be able to fit 8 pancakes. Cook the pancakes over moderately high heat until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to the prepared wire rack to drain.
5. Shave fennel very thinly on a mandolin just before serving. Toss with reserved pickling liquid.
6. To present, top a crispy latke with the horseradish sour cream, some smoked trout, and shaved fennel. Garnish with pickled beets and fennel fronds.