It’s been a nice, long and relaxing break. We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! It’s good to be back, but it’s difficult to write about food when all you can think about is avoiding it for a bit to detox from the holidays. This holiday season we ate like kings, we drank a lot of booze and we took very little exercise. We also played plenty of Boggle, Trivia Pursuit and Clue (hey, we were holed up on a family vacation in the mountains). The few times I have sweated in the last few days, it has been thick and almost seems as though animal fat was seeping out of my skin. Basically, it’s time for a break.
But, reminiscing about skinnier times, I must say that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very delicious. And, as Heather says, “Catholic much?”. Yes, we try to incorporate as much fish into our Christmas meal as possible and one starter we had on Christmas Day was this fabulously easy and mildly decadent Salmon Rillettes. Many know this traditional French “spread” to be made primarily with pork but also with duck, rabbit, chicken or other types of meat, and is often made with tuna or salmon. Meat rillettes are made by cooking the meat slowly in fat so that it is so tender it almost melts or shreds and is then blended with the cooking fat so that is is able to be spread, once cooled, on pieces of bread. One day we’ll do a meat rillette for the blog but, until then, give this tasty (and easier to make) salmon version a whirl. Don’t be afraid of the butter content and ease your worries about eating raw egg by buying cage free and organic. It needs fat and is supposed to be eaten in small quantities, so enjoy it – but maybe you should wait until after your post-holiday purge?
SALMON RILLETTES (adapted from Bistro by G. Hiriqoyen) - serves six to eight
- 1 3/4 pound (or 12 oz.) piece of salmon, skin removed
- 7 oz. of smoked salmon
- 1/2 cup (4 oz.) of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 eggs (the freshest possible), beaten
- 1/2 fennel bulb, chopped very fine using a blender or food processor
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives
- optional: 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers
- salt and pepper
What to do:
- Season your salmon filet with salt and pepper, place in a steaming basket, cover and steam over gently boiling water. You could also poach the salmon in a few inches of water, covering the salmon. Cook salmon until it is firm to the touch, about 9 minutes.
- Remove salmon and put in a bowl and shred the salmon with a fork. It may be easier to just use your fingers, but shred so that pieces are not shredded finely but will give the rillette some texture. Cover and refridgerate to cool.
- Place the room temperature butter in a bowl and, using a rubber spatula, “work” it till it’s smooth and creamy. Add the lemon juice, chives, capers, fennel and fennel fronds and mix together well. Now add the beaten egg, only adding half at first, then mixing. If you feel it’s still kind of “dry”, add 1/4 more of it. Personally, I thought it was too wet with 2 whole beaten eggs, so see what works best for you.
- Cut the smoked salmon into small pieces, about 1 inch “strips” so that they are similar in size to the shredded pieces. Add the cooled fresh salmon and the smoked salmon pieces to the butter mixture and mix together thoroughly until it is completely incorporated together. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper and more lemon juice if necessary.
- Put in one big ramekin or individual ramekins (about 2 tablespoons per ramekin) and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving and serve with toasted slices of baguette.