Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rillettes de saumon--salmon spread

I first had this in Tours, as I started my bike trip along the Loire last summer. It was a little tourist restaurant called Roi something. On the Rue du Grand Marché just off the vieux carré.

The salmon at the best places comes from the Loire, where there has been an effort to help the Atlantic salmon spawn far up the what is the longest river in France. The river system is beautifully clear (compared to Iowa especially). I could look down from the grand gallery at Chenonceau, the chateau the spans the Cher (a Loire tributary) and snap a pic of the fish in the afternoon light below. The story is that during WWI, soldiers taken there to recover from their wounds fished from their hospital beds in the river below.

The charcutiers compete as much on the salmon rillettes as they do on their pork rillettes (pork meat and fat melted into a spread). And I had several versions of both during my five days on the bike.

This is great on a buffet, with bread or crackers, but also as a first course.

Serves 12 as a first course on crackers or bread.
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon (thin sliced Scottish style)
  • 8 ounces cooked salmon (leftover, or microwaved 3 minutes)
  • 3 ounces European-style butter (e.g., Plugra)
  • 6 ounces creme fraiche (recipe below)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill and more for garnish.
  1. Soften the butter in the microwave (about 7 seconds on high). Mince the dill.
  2. Cut the smoked salmon into thin strips lengthwise, then cut crosswise into small dice. Roughly chop the fresh salmon.
  3. With a fork or whisk, toss the salmons, softened butter, creme fraiche, lemon juice, dill, and freshly ground pepper until it is lightly combined.
  4. Put in ramekins or a bowl. Garnish with additional dill. Refrigerate for two hours if possible.

Creme fraiche: If you can't buy this in a market, you can make it overnight. In a microwave, warm a 1/2 pint carton of heavy cream slightly (110 degrees, for those who must be precise). Pour 1 tablespoon buttermilk into the carton of heavy cream. Shake and leave out about 24 hours, or until the cream has thickened (check it every eight hours or so). Then refrigerate.

1 comment:

Slaked! said...

Tried a version of this at Bouschon in Yountville two weeks ago and have been thinking of it ever since. Thanks for the recipe - will try this at home.