Salmon Rillettes

Salmon Rillettes

The Christmas holiday has now passed. I have let it be known around my house that the kitchen this week (and maybe the next week too) is temporarily closed! Fend for yourselves, I’m pooped. That last impromptu dinner for 20 people the day after Christmas just about did me in. (I advise anyone thinking of doing this to please give your spouse — the one who does all the cooking — more than 2 days notice! ) The last couple of days I have just been relaxing and perusing the many wonderful cookbooks I was lucky enough to receive as gifts from friends and family. I have also been nursing my intense culinary crush on David Lebovitz. Even though his blog makes all us food bloggers look like hacks, both as chefs and as writers, I read it religiously and often find that I am turning to him more and more for inspiration, not just in the kitchen but in how to observe the life around me. His most recent book, The Perfect Scoop, is what turned me onto the pleasures of home made ice cream this past summer. This Christmas, I was given one of his earlier books, The Sweet Life in Paris which is far more than a cookbook — it is part journal highlighting his amusing insights into his newly adopted city. I hate him for how well he writes! I then immediately forgive him when he offers up another delightful (and “Frenchified”) recipe. Although not from the book, this Salmon Rillettes recipe is his and I serve it often. This season it has found its way into several holiday parties, both mine and others. I’m now rushing this post out as fast as I can so you will still enough have time to try this out for your New Year’s evening. I can’t think of one thing better to serve with Champagne as you toast in the New Year. (Oh, I love champagne!) If you are going out then consider bringing this for your hostess or having it ready in the morning for your brunch. It is that good.

Rillettes is pronounced “Ree-Yet” by the way. Sort of. You will have to say it with your face all scrunched up doing your best Charles Boyer impression to get the accurate sound on your “R”. It will take some practice. Or, you can do what my guests did and call it “Salmon Spread”. As in, “where did you get this amazing salmon spread? What is it?” Have some fun correcting them. “Its Salmon Ree Yet.” Then watch them stare at you blankly. “Huh?” Rillettes is usually a pork or duck creation where the meat is slowly cooked until tender and then cooled with its own fat in a jar where it is preserved for use later as a spread on bread or toasts. Duck confit is on my target list for 2011 so no doubt the duck version will be on the menu soon but its hard for me to fathom how it can be better than this less traditional salmon version. It is easy to make and doesn’t require nearly the same amount of prep as duck or pork rillettes. Typically it is both stored and served in canning jars. This recipe will make exactly two half pint jars of the stuff which will be perfect as you will use one for your party and will grateful to have the other one hidden away for yourself to enjoy to next day.

Salmon Rillettes

Salmon Rillettes Salmon Rillettes

Salmon Rillettes Salmon Rillettes

Salmon Rillettes

Salmon Rillettes

adapted from David Lebovitz

This is what you will need:

  • 8 ounce piece of salmon, preferably wild, bones removed
  • salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
  • 4 ounces (125 g) smoked salmon, cut into thin strips, then cut into ½-inch (2 cm) pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder and/or a few turns of freshly-ground white pepper to taste

This is how you make it:

  1. Season the salmon on both sides lightly with a bit of salt. Steam in a steamer basket until just cooked, about 8 minutes. If you have a microwave, you can probably cook it in there as well. Once cooked, remove from heat and let cool.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mash together with a fork the butter and the olive oil until very smooth.This is très important; otherwise there’ll be big chunks of butter in the finished rillettes.
  3. Stir in the lemon juice, then the chopped chives and smoked salmon.4. Remove the skin from the salmon and flake the cooked salmon over the mixture, then fold the pieces of salmon into the rillette mixture along with the chili powder. Season with salt, if necessary.
  4. Spoon into canning jars and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  5. To serve, remove from refrigerator and let come down to just below room temperature.


Keeps for 3 days or so. 1 month in the freezer if sealed and wrapped well.

Salmon Rillettes



About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Yum! I’m going to make this and give it to a friend who just recently discovered that she likes salmon. Thanks for the recipe! Enjoy the kitchen being closed!

  2. I’ve been on strike in my kitchen now for a while- I’m just now getting back in the cooking groove. Your salmon rillettes- however you say it- look fabulous and perfect for New Year’s Eve! Now all I need is a bit of smoked salmon. 🙂

  3. I had to laugh when you said your kitchen is closed – mine too! I just don’t feel like dong any cooking for New Year’s. Finger foods sound perfect and I am going to try making these for New Year’s Eve. Thank you for the recipe!

  4. I believe this was the yummy snack you served me during my recent visit. Magnifique!

  5. I know your kitchen is not a bakery, but David’s recent book on Desserts is a good one to have on the shelf. Shame on people for not giving you more notice – but look at it this way – you’re prepped for an episode of Top Chef or Meals in Minutes or When Company Drops In Unexpectedly… Salmon and New Years go quite well together.

  6. OOH Trevor, qu’est-ce que c’est? You made THIS and didn’t invite me over?! Oh la la la !!

    It looks très bon!!!

  7. I’m so glad you stopped by my blog because it led to me discovering your blog and I love it . The photos, the writing and of course the food. This looks so very good. I’m stopping by the market today for some salmon !

  8. I couldn’t decide which post to comment on, everything looks so good, your photos make me want to try everything you made! 🙂
    Thanks for your comment on my blog. Have a great new year!

  9. Can I borrow your “closed” sign, pretty please? Maybe I can least put it on autopilot for a week or two…

    I have had my eye on either the rilletes or some gravlax for a while now. You are tempting me…

  10. You have been so ambitious this season and alas I’ve been away for most of it. I am now ready to cook like crazy and you, my dear are an inspiration. Happy New Year to you and yours this season Trevor. I look forward to many more sharing of great ideas and food through out the year. B:)