Quick & Delicious: Salmon Rillettes
This spread is as happy sharing a table with the fixings for an American brunch as it is on the buffet of a chic Parisian cocktail party. A mix of quickly-poached fresh salmon and bits of smoked salmon, mashed with a fork and seasoned with a little hot pepper and a lot of lemon juice, it can be served pressed into a canning jar (the way you'd serve the most traditional pork rillettes), with a knife and hunks of bread, or spooned onto toast points or blini. Either way, Dorie suggests you make more than you think you'll need. While you can certainly cut this recipe in half, do that and you'll regret it the following day - when, if you're like Dorie, you'll crave the rillettes as a snack.
Be prepared: The rillettes must be refrigerated for at least 2 hours so it firms up.
Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
1 small red chile pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
5 white peppercorns
5 coriander seeds
2 small spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped, long green tops reserved, or 1 shallot, finely chopped, rinsed, and patted dry
1/2 pound salmon fillet, cut into small (about 1/2-inch) cubes
4-6 ounces smoked salmon, cut into small (about 1/4-inch) dice
Freshly ground white pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
About 1/4 teaspoon pink peppercorns, crushed
Bread, crackers, or toast for serving
Using a vegetable peeler, remove a strip of zest from the lemon and toss it into a medium saucepan. Finely grate the rest of the zest, and set it and the lemon aside. With a small knife, cut away a sliver of the chile pepper; discard the seeds, and toss the sliver into the saucepan. Seed and finely chop the remainder of the chile pepper.
Pour the wine or vermouth and the water into the pan, add the bay leaf, white peppercorns, coriander, onion tops if you're using spring onions, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Drop the cubes of fresh salmon into the pan, cover, and poach for just 1 minute. Turn everything into a strainer, drain, and transfer the cubes of salmon to a bowl. Discard herbs, spices, and vegetables.
With the back of a fork, lightly mash the poached salmon. Toss the smoked salmon, grated lemon zest, chile pepper, and chopped onions or shallot into the bowl, season with salt and white pepper, and give everything a good stir. Add the butter and use the fork to stir and mash it into the mixture until it's well incorporated and you have a thick spread. Squeeze about half of the lemon's juice into the bowl, stir it in, and season the rillettes again with salt and white pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice (it's nice when it's lemony) if you'd like, then stir in the pink peppercorns.
Pack the rillettes into a jar (a canning jar is traditional) or bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface, and chill for at least 2 hours - you want it to be firm.
Serve the rillettes with bread, crackers, or toast.
*Tip: Packed airtight, the rillettes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Recommended Wine Pairings:
- Based on the lemon juice and zest in the rillettes, this would pair well with a Sancerre.
- If you haven't already finished it, the rest of the bottle you used to make them!
If you like this recipe, be sure to pick up a copy of Dorie's Around My French Table.