This spread is as happy with toasted baguette slices at cocktail hour as it is spread on toasted rye at lunch. Try with Dijon, cream cheese, and a side of cornichons. I use sockeye salmon from Kvichak Fish Company, owned by a Montana family that catches, hand-cuts, and packs sockeye salmon and halibut each season in Naknek, Alaska.
Makes about 1½ cups (6 servings)
8 ounces fresh salmon fillet
1 tablespoon gin or Pernod (Kintla Peak Gin from Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits is a great one!)
½ cup white wine
½ cup water
2 shallots—1 peeled and split (or use ¼ onion or a small spring onion) and 1 minced then rinsed and patted dry on a paper towel (about 2 tablespoons)
1 big strip of lemon zest
5 black peppercorns
5 coriander seeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3–5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2–4 ounces smoked salmon, optional (make sure you really like the flavor)
Zest and juice from a fresh lemon
¼ teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns or red chile flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkle the salmon fillet with the gin and set aside for 30 minutes. Combine the wine, water, peeled shallot, a big strip of lemon zest, black peppercorns, coriander, and salt in a small but deep saucepan and bring to boil; lower heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the salmon fillet, skin side down. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes to gently cook. Remove the salmon from the poaching liquid and set on a plate to cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons butter, minced shallot, and remaining lemon zest. Flake in the salmon fillet (and the smoked salmon, if using, adding the additional 2 tablespoons butter) and mix gently with a fork. Add the pink peppercorns and juice from half a lemon, then taste and season with salt and pepper and additional lemon juice from the other half, if you’d like. Press rillettes into one or two small serving ramekins and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours. Serve the rillettes with thin slices of baguette (crispy or not) or crackers.
- Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Table to Yours and Anna Zepaltas’ salmon rillettes recipe in Food & Wine magazine.