FOR THE CURE:
4 cups brown sugar
2 cups Kosher salt
1 cup paprika
½ cup ground cumin
¼ cup Mexican oregano
½ cup chili powder
1 Tbls ground celery seed
3 to 4 pound salmon fillet, skin removed
Combine the brown sugar, kosher salt, paprika, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and celery seed in a large bowl. Place one half of the mixture in a baking pan and top with the salmon. Cover the salmon with the remaining spice mixture and pat down to insure it is completely covered. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
FOR THE PASTRY:
½ cup butter
1 cup water 1 cup flour ½ tsp salt
1 Tbls Herbes de Provence
1 tsp minced garlic
16 ounces cream cheese
¼ cup diced red onion
6 cups wood chips (such as apple, cherry, or hickory)
Preheat the oven to 425°. Bring the butter and water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the flour and salt all at once and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a stiff ball. Remove the pan from the heat and add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add the herbes de Provence and garlic and stir well. Drop the dough into 24 golf ball-sized mounds placed about 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool to room temperature and slice each pastry puff in half.
Combine the cream cheese and red onion in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the grill (or smoker) with the coals banked around the edges and the grates removed. Rinse the salmon under running water until most of the cure is removed and pat dry (the salmon will retain the red color from the paprika). Place half of the wood chips on the hot coals and place the grates on the grill. Place the salmon in the center of the grates and cover immediately. Smoke the salmon for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the salmon is just barely cooked. Remove from the grill and keep warm until ready to serve. The salmon can also be served at room temperature.
Spread a thin layer of the cream cheese on each of the cream puff halves. Top with some of the smoked salmon and a small dollop of the cream cheese mixture. Place a caperberry on top of the cream cheese and arrange on a serving tray.
If the idea of smoking salmon is overwhelming, you can use store-bought smoked salmon for this recipe.