This classic French-inspired recipe has always been a hit at social events: easy to eat, great as a starter, healthfully inclined (where the salmon is concerned, at least; I find it’s best not to think about the butter), and makes for a great presentation! Rillettes (pronounced, “rih-LET”) is made most traditionally with seasoned pork rendered in fat and slow-cooked for hours, similar to confit. Duck, game birds, anchovies, or tuna are also commonly used.
When I used to work in kitchens, I generally saw salmon rillettes done much less conventionally: using smoked salmon and cream cheese to replace the fat, processed until smooth. This salmon rillettes takes on a much more standard approach by reintroducing the slow-cooked meat in fat (butter, in this case). I’ll occasionally throw green onions on top in lieu of dill since it adds the same aesthetic touch. You are free to add your own flare however you see fit!
You’ll save some money if you purchase the salmon fillet with skin attached. But if you aren’t terribly versed in de-skinning, just go with what you’re comfortable with.
Ingredients: (Yield: 2 lbs.)
- 1.5 – 2 lbs Fresh salmon, filleted
- 1.5 lbs Unsalted butter
- 1 Shallot bulb, minced
- 4-5 Garlic cloves, minced
- (¼ cup Fresh dill, minced; optional)
- ¼ cup Lemon juice
- ½ Tbs Granulated sugar
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat.
- Once the butter has completely melted, place the salmon fillet in the center of the pan and cover, maintaining low heat.
- When the edges begin to bubble and turn white, remove from heat and cover the saucepan, keeping heat trapped inside. Let the salmon sit for about 20 minutes.
- Uncover the saucepan and transfer the contents — butter and all — to a large mixing bowl. Mash salmon fillet into the butter until a homogeneous, almost-spreadable texture is developed.
- Return the saucepan to high heat and deglaze the bottom of the pan with lemon juice. Return heat to low and add minced shallots and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook over low-to-medium heat, being careful not to burn the garlic, until shallots are lightly browned.
- Add the shallot mixture to the salmon spread. Stir until thoroughly incorporated. Add minced dill, if desired (if mixture is still too rough to spread, add additional melted butter or olive oil – to taste – until desired consistency is achieved. Be sure to adjust the taste with additional lemon juice, as needed). Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Adjust seasoning, as needed.
- Serve rillettes over crackers, crostini, or simply on its own in a bowl with a spoon. Place a sprig of fresh dill on top to garnish, if desired.