salmon rillette

styling by Catrine Kelty | photo by Keller + Keller

A rillette is similar to a pâté, where meat—usually pork—is cooked and combined with fat. Here we’ve used fresh salmon, giving this traditional appetizer a distinctly coastal flavor. The rillettes will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week without the butter seal, and three days once cracked open and served.

1 pound salmon, skin and bones removed
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 small leek (white and light green parts), washed, dried, and cut in half
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 medium shallot, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or sour cream or mayonnaise)
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or dill
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Clarified Butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter

Crackers or toasts, for serving

  1. Remove and discard any dark flesh from salmon.
  2. Add water, white wine, bay leaf, black peppercorns, and leek to bottom of a steamer basket and bring to a simmer. Place salmon in steamer and cover. Steam for 20-30 minutes over low heat (amount of time depends on thickness of salmon). Check salmon for doneness by inserting tip of a knife into center of salmon to see if cooked through. When done, remove salmon from steamer and allow to cool. Discard cooking liquid and its contents.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over low heat. Add shallot and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes (do not let shallots brown). Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Place remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium bowl. Using a rubber spatula, beat until smooth and about consistency of mayonnaise. Stir in crème fraîche (or sour cream or mayonnaise).
  5. Place salmon in a large bowl and flake into pieces (you want a mix of large and small pieces). Add cooled shallots, minced fresh chives or dill, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in butter mixture until just combined.
  6. Transfer mixture to canning jar(s), leaving 1/2 inch of space at top. Smooth top of each to make a flat, even layer and wipe inside of rims clean. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour, until chilled.
  7. After 1 hour, make clarified butter. In a sauté pan, heat butter over low heat. Once melted, allow foam to rise to top (be careful as this may splatter a bit). When foam has subsided, remove from heat and skim off foam with a spoon (discard foam or save for another use). Do not let butter brown.
  8. Remove chilled canning jar(s) and divide clarified butter over top of salmon mixture. Cover and refrigerate until butter forms a solid layer.
  9. When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator about 10 minutes beforehand. Break through butter layer and spread some of salmon mixture onto crackers or toasts and serve.

Serves 6-8.

cook’s note: The clarified butter is meant to preserve the mixture below and can be eaten right along with the salmon or discarded completely before serving.