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Salmon rillettes recipe

Salmon rillettes recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Starters
  • Seafood starters
  • Fish starters
  • Salmon starters

This salmon rillettes recipe makes an elegant starter or canape. Very easy to make and even better - you can prepare it in advance.

1 person made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 500ml water
  • 1 fish stock cube
  • 450g fresh skinless, boneless salmon
  • 70g butter, softened
  • 30g fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:10min ›Extra time:1hr chilling › Ready in:1hr20min

  1. Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan. Crumble in the fish stock when it's at the boil, then add the salmon. Turn down the heat to a simmer, and cook the salmon for 10 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork.
  2. Drain the salmon and let cool. Once cool, flake the salmon into small bits. In a mixing bowl, combine the flaked salmon with the butter, dill and chives. Give a good stir, then taste to see if you'd like to add any salt and pepper.
  3. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

To serve

For an easy and elegant starter, spoon the mixture into small ramekins or cups, then serve alongside toasted baguette. To serve canape-style, spoon the mixture into canapé spoons and place the spoons on a serving tray.

Make ahead

You can easily make this recipe a day in advance without any compromise on flavour.

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Salmon Rillettes

Photo courtesy ASMI

This classic French dish is impressive, yet surprisingly easy to make! Serve it as a spread on a cracker board, or in the jar used to store in the fridge. Rillettes are a great appetizer to have on hand for fancy events, or if you want to dress up a weeknight dinner.

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 15 min
Total time: 45 min
Serves: many!

Salmon rillettes

Self-control is never one of my strong suits, but I can resist out-of-season food as easily as a teetotaler tunes out Robert Parker. There are a dozen reasons why, but the most basic is simply the pleasure principle. Abstinence does make the heart grow fonder.

Like anyone, I can get worked up about the first corn in summer and squash in fall after a year’s wait, but it’s spring fruits and vegetables that have a power all out of proportion to their short season. Nothing else imparts that feeling of renewal, of new beginnings. I make a ritual of steaming my first bunch of asparagus and sauteing my first fresh morels and braising my first fava beans. An artichoke is something to sit down and contemplate leaf by leaf on first meeting after a year apart rhubarb almost looks good enough to eat raw after a long winter’s exile with pears and apples.

But after enough one-on-one encounters, I’m ready to put all of those edible harbingers together in one meal to prove spring has really arrived. And it feels so celebratory that it has to be shared. You can do it with a sit-down dinner or as a buffet, but either way, accentuating the season is a spirit-lifting theme for feeding friends or family. An open house on Easter would be a good excuse to bring on all of spring in one spread.

The best part of planning the menu is that the main course is almost preordained. This time of year, either lamb or ham seems to be the natural choice for the protein at the center of the table, and I’m not going to argue with centuries of tradition. But there’s a bonus: The same accompaniments can work with either meat. What complements the dark intensity of the lamb is just as harmonious with the sweet fattiness of the cured pork when you’re playing off the seasonal palette.

As a starter, the simplest idea is radishes, one of the more easily overlooked symbols of spring. They’re at their best now all you have to do is wash, trim and serve them the way more and more restaurants do lately: with nothing more than sweet butter and sea salt.

Salmon is another emblem of the season that could be served very simply -- just smoked slices on warm toasts with a little lemon. But you can also turn it into rillettes, which are easily made and taste very light despite their richness. These days I buy only wild salmon, which is cleaner and has better flavor with less fattiness than the scary, flabby farmed kind. For the rillettes I use both fresh and smoked salmon, knocking off an idea from the fish temple Le Bernardin in New York. The fresh salmon is barely cooked so that you can easily mash it into the minced smoked fish. You get a more intense flavor and just the right texture. A little creme fraiche makes the mix spreadable, a little lemon makes it livelier and a lot of chives give it the essential element of spring.

As the first side dish, you have to have potatoes to take advantage of the perfectly tiny ones popping up in farmers markets everywhere. They have a taste like no others, along with an almost buttery texture and skins so thin you don’t want to peel them and lose that extra layer of flavor. You could get away with simply roasting them, but because they cook so quickly when they’re so small, you can turn them into a tian, the Provencal cousin of a gratin.

I slice them thin and layer them with three other elements of spring: fresh artichoke hearts, fresh morels and the green garlic that is light-years away from the aggressive mature kind. This dish needs no cream for richness or flavor as wintertime potatoes do. You can use just olive oil and a little chicken stock to moisten them, then cook them sealed in foil until they turn completely tender. A dusting of bread crumbs and grated cheese baked on top will give textural contrast.

A big platter of cold asparagus, with or without a sesame-soy mayonnaise for dipping, would be a perfectly acceptable finishing touch. But if you combine asparagus with all the other just-picked spring vegetables -- fava beans, baby carrots, tiny leeks and especially those sweet fresh peas that will turn woody in just a couple of weeks -- you can quintuple the seasonal sensation.

I use only the perfect tips of the asparagus -- big bunches are so cheap and good right now that you can almost be wasteful with them (or you can use the stalks in another dish, such as soup or a frittata). The baby carrots need to be blanched, but otherwise the dish is as simple as a stir-fry: All the vegetables cook so evenly they can just be braised in butter and a little vegetable demi-glace, which has a profound flavor that picks up all the high notes without overwhelming them the way cream would. A bunch of chervil, the forgotten vibrant spring herb, brings all the parts into harmony.

For dessert, this is the time of year when you could get out a bowlful of berries and some mascarpone and call it a night. But rhubarb is too good not to make something of it. I turn it into a classic crisp, with pecans for extra crunch in the topping, and then gild it with strawberry ice cream. The sharp combination of flavors, so much more common in pie, tastes like the season without the cliche.

Salmon Rillettes

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Salmon is famed for its high omega-3 fatty acid content, but did you know this popular fish is also rich in B vitamins? Integral to multiple processes in the body, various B vitamins help convert food to energy, create and repair DNA and reduce inflammation tied to heart disease. Salmon is also rich in the antioxidant compound astaxanthin, which contributes to its red pigment, is linked to lowering risk of heart disease and works in tandem with omega-3 fatty acids to help protect the brain and nervous system from inflammation.

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  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided (TRY: Origin 846 Unfiltered Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Pinch sea salt, or to taste
  • Pinch sea salt, or to taste
  • ½ large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tbsp chopped capers
  • 1 6-oz can wild-caught salmon, drained
  • 4 oz smoked salmon, very finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp paprika (TRY: Simply Organic Paprika)
  • Ground black pepper, to taste (TRY: Simply Organic Ground Black Pepper)
  • Crudités, crackers or toasted bread, for serving (TRY: Ezekiel 4:9 Flourless Sprouted Grain Flax Bread)


1. In a small skillet on medium-low, heat one-half of oil. Add shallot and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and light golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a cup to cool.

2. In a bowl, combine butter, lemon zest and juice, capers, remaining one-half of oil and cooled shallot mixture. Flake canned salmon into bowl add smoked salmon and paprika. Mash everything together with a fork until well combined. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with crudités, crackers or toasted bread of choice.

Thomas Keller’s Potted Salmon Rillettes

I’ve delayed writing this post for weeks because I don’t know how it’s possible to explain in words how spectacular this recipe is.

Brad and I are both huge Thomas Keller fans dating back to when we first tried his recipe for simple roasted chicken. A few years ago he bought me a collection of Keller cookbooks and we immediately gravitated to Bouchon.

These salmon rillettes are among the most intriguing recipes I found flipping through the book and I was thrilled to find them on the menu the next time we visited our local Bouchon.

It just took one bite and I was completely blown away. As much as I love salmon I’ve never imagined it could be so creamy, smooth, light, and flavorful. Just as awesome, for me, was the small plate style. This dish is perfect for casual sharing with friends.

Salmon rillettes at the Bouchon bar quickly became a regular treat for us. A dangerously expensive treat.

Last time we visited we managed to ring up what is now our personal record in bar tabs for just the two of us. Nothing to do with the salmon rillettes and everything to do with the fact that we got a little tipsy and spent a few hours letting the bartender pour us tastes of beverages that were so delicious we were compelled to buy complete glasses.

The biggest upside of this is that we were introduced to the perfectly complimentary wine for this dish: L’enclos Savennièrres. Yum.

Brad found the wine at our local wine store and I dug up the recipe for the rillettes. We now have everything we need to enjoy our favorite things about Bouchon at home for a (significantly smaller) fraction of the cost.

These are the perfect make-ahead dish for casual entertaining that will blow your guests away. Store them in these cute little gasket-seal canning jars for up to a week in the fridge. Pull them out all nonchalant… “I just whipped these up the other day” and claim the title of world’s greatest host/ess. Serve the salmon spread on toasted baguette – or swap out cucumber slices to keep things keto. Either way they’re going to change your world.

  • 8 Ounces piece of salmon, bones removed
  • Salt
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped chives
  • 4 Ounces smoked salmon, cut into thin strips, then cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1/4 Teaspoon chili powder or smoked paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Season the salmon lightly on both sides with salt. Steam salmon in a steamer basket until just cooked, about 8 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the heat and let cool.

In a medium-sized bowl, mash together the butter and olive oil with a fork until very smooth.

Stir the lemon juice, chopped chives, and smoked salmon into the butter and olive oil until well combined.

Remove the skin from the cooked salmon, and flake the salmon over the other ingredients. Sprinkle the chili powder on top, and fold everything together. Taste, and adjust seasoning as desired.

Scrape into a serving dish, cover, and chill for at least 2 hours. Let come to room temperature before serving.

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    • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 small)
    • 1 cup crème fraîche
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    • 8 ounces smoked salmon
    • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
    • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives, plus more for garnish
    • Rye crackers and flaky sea salt (for serving)

Salmon Rillettes

"Salmon rillettes makes a great hors d&rsquooeuvre or first course, and it will keep for a couple of weeks refrigerated. Here I combine fresh salmon poached in butter with chopped smoked salmon and add a dash of bottled horseradish to the mixture. It is important that the butter used to poach the salmon doesn&rsquot get too hot, so the onions in it don&rsquot fry. I first heat the butter in a microwave oven until it clarifies&mdash meaning the clear part of the butter separates from the milky part. Then some of the clear butter is reserved to coat and seal the little crocks of rillettes, and the rest of the butter, including the milky solids, is used to cook the fresh salmon.

"Be sure you let the chilled rillettes temper for about an hour at room temperature before serving, or the mixture will be too hard. Serve with rice crackers or toast and a dry white wine." --Jacques Pépin

Recipe: Salmon Rillettes

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
  • 6 ounces boneless, skinless salmon (the belly is best), cut into 11/2-inch pieces
  • 3 ounces sliced smoked salmon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon bottled horseradish
  1. Heat the butter in a glass measuring cup or a small bowl in a microwave oven for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until the clear part of the butter separates from the milky solids. Reserve 1/4 cup of the clear melted butter to coat the rillettes.
  2. Pour the rest of the melted butter, including the milky part, into a small saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook gently over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the fresh salmon and mix well, then reduce the heat and cook, covered, for about 2 minutes. Mix again. The salmon should be barely cooked in the center and still a little pink. Transfer to a plate.
  3. With a fork, crush the poached salmon into a coarse mixture. Transfer to a bowl, add the chopped smoked salmon, salt, pepper, and horseradish, and mix well.
  4. Divide the mixture among three small molds (I use 1/2-cup soufflé molds) the molds should be about three-quarters full. Smooth the top of each one with the back of a spoon. Pour the reserved melted butter on top. Refrigerate until ready to use. (The rillettes will keep for a couple of weeks in your refrigerator.)
  5. To serve, let the rillettes warm up at room temperature for about 1 hour, so the salmon and butter soften a little. Then stir the top layer of butter into the rillettes and serve.

Recipe from Heart & Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 2015 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


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