Smoked Salmon Rillettes

December 23, 2014

smoked salmon rilettesI don’t mind telling you that I am
frightened; frightened and distressed that Christmas is knocking on my door, scratching at the windows and yelling through my letterbox like a pesky neighbour.

Christmas is only a few days away and I have done nothing to prepare for it. It’s my own fault
I know, but sometimes life gets in the way of festivities so anything to make it easier is always welcome. When it comes to the big day I’m a firm believer that anything you can make
in advance will help tremendously. As much as
I love cooking I don’t want to be in the kitchen
all day when I could have made much of it the day (or even days) before. Side dishes like mashed potato keeps for a good few days and just needs re-heating, bread sauce can be made the day before and so can this recipe.

Rillettes is a type of French pate, originally made with pork. It has a coarse texture and makes a super starter. My version is made with fresh smoked salmon, both of which I picked up from the fantastic Trawlermen fishmongers located in the Food Hall at Leicester Market.

You can serve this recipe with Melba toasts or soda bread, but I used one of Brucciani’s award-winning baguettes, bought from the always friendly Sherwin’s; a much lighter bread and a better crust than what the supermarkets offer.

The lemons and tarragon were also bought from Leicester Market and available from the wonderful range of outdoor fruit and veg stalls.

Ingredients (serves 4)

–    100g plain cream cheese
–    100g crème fraiche
–    1-2 tsp horseradish cream
–    Juice of ½ lemon
–    200g fresh salmon fillet
–    75g good smoked salmon chopped into small pieces about the size of your little fingernail
–    2 sprigs fresh tarragon (don’t used dried it’s not as good)
–    2 bay leaves
–    ½ medium onion just halved, no need to peel
–    About 12 whole black peppercorns
–    Salt and pepper


1.    First thing is to poach the fresh salmon fillet. Place it in a saucepan and cover with enough water so the fillet is submerged completely. Add the onion, peppercorns and bay leaves and 1 sprig of tarragon. Bring the pan to a boil then turn down to a medium heat, simmer for 3-4 minutes then take off the heat and leave for a further 2 minutes to finish cooking in the residual heat. Remove and leave to cool completely.

2.    In a large bowl add the cream cheese, crème fraiche, lemon juice, horseradish (add more if you want more of a kick) and beat together with a wooden spoon.

3.    Add the the chopped smoked salmon and fold in gently. Take the other sprig of tarragon and remove the leaves, chop finely then mix in. Once the salmon fillet is cooled remove any skin and gently flake into the bowl with the other ingredients, again gently fold in until evenly combined. Add a few turns of the pepper mill and just a pinch of salt. Now taste and if you want more tarragon then add it, if you want more heat then add extra horseradish. Spoon the mixture into small ramekins and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve on the big day with a toasted bread of your choice and a wedge of lemon, delish!