salmon rillettes and champagne


A few weekends ago, my gorgeous cousin Kristi got married at a fantastic, industrial space in San Francisco. We invited my sister and her boyfriend Bryan over to our apartment beforehand for bits and bobs and champagne {after promising my mom that we would imbibe responsibly and not show up to the wedding three sheets to the wind}. I decided to make one of my sister’s favorite appetizers – salmon rillettes {a type of rough pâté} from Bouchon. I remember her description of them the first time she had them at the bar at Bouchon in LA.  At Bouchon, they serve the rillettes in adorable glass jars with a “cap” of clarified butter on top to seal in the flavors that must be cracked into and removed prior to serving. I have made salmon rillettes at home following Thomas Keller’s recipe a few times since, and absolutely adore serving this appetizer for cocktail hour – the rillettes can be made in advance, stored in glass containers that can be opened immediately prior to serving for fun presentation, and served simply with toasted bread and chives. This recipe includes both smoked and poached fresh salmon, which are enveloped in a deliciously savory and addictive mixture of creme fraiche and shallots. I am always looking for fun, easy recipes for cocktail hour, and for me, this one is a keeper.



Adapted slightly from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Cookbook

  • 1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup {2 sticks} unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon creme fraiche
  • 1/2 pound unsliced smoked salmon, chilled, skin and dark layer removed if necessary, cut into 1/4 -inch dice and brought to room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup minced chives

Trim and discard any dark flesh from the salmon fillet. Place the fish in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle each side with 1 tablespoon of the wine, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes, turning the fish over halfway through the marination.

Bring water to a simmer in the bottom of a steamer. Remove the salmon from the baking dish and place it in the steamer and cover with the lid. Steam gently for 5 to 8 minutes; if you see steam pouring out the sides of the steamer, lower the heat. Check the salmon by separating the flesh with the tip of a knife and peering at the center. It should be medium-rare. When it is cooked, remove from the steamer.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saute pan over low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the shallots have softened but not browned. Remove from the heat.

Put 7 tablespoons butter in a small bowl and beat with a rubber spatula until it is smooth and resembles mayonnaise in consistency. Stir in the creme fraiche. Set aside.

Put the cooked salmon in a large bowl and stir to break it into large chunks. Because you will be stirring in the remaining ingredients, you don’t want to break up the pieces too much. Stir in the smoked salmon, shallots, lemon juice, olive oil and egg yolks. Season assertively with one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-half teaspoon black pepper, since this will be served cold. Fold in the butter mixture.

Transfer the rillettes to 2 ceramic or glass serving bowls, leaving at least one-half-inch of space at the top. Smooth the top of the rillettes and wipe the inside rims clean. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, until cold. Pour a one-fourth-inch-thick layer of clarified butter over the top of the rillettes to seal. {To clarify butter, melt the remaining one-half cup — 1 stick — butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Do not let it brown. Remove it from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes. A white foam will collect on top. Using a large spoon, remove the foam. Carefully and with a steady hand, pour off the clear yellowish liquid, leaving the milky solids at the bottom.}

Cover the bowls and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. To serve, break through the butter layer and remove it. Spread the rillettes on toast or crackers and sprinkle with chives. {Once the butter is removed, eat the rillettes within 2 days.}










This entry was posted in other tasty bits, Recipes, small bites. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to salmon rillettes and champagne

  1. Hey
    Just wanted to leave a quick not just to let you know how much I love you’re blog!

    Great recipes and your layout is really stylish.


  2. Lauren Gehman says:

    Gorgeous! Yours are better than Thomas Keller’s.

  3. mimi says:

    Great minds! I’ve got a salmon rillettes post coming soon! But I did a little something diffrent… Beautiful photos, as usual.

  4. Sounds amazing and I love the photos.

  5. Really so lovely, the Rillette and photo’s. It just doesn’t get much better than this simple delicious appetizer.

  6. ladyredspecs says:

    Simple but sophisticated, the rillettes would be perfect with champagne. thanks for sharing

  7. A salmon rillettes sounds like the perfect companion to champagne for two beautiful life time companions.

  8. bakeaffairs says:

    Sounds and looks amazing!

  9. mimi says:

    great minds! I have a salmon rillettes recipe coming at the end of the month! Your photos are outstanding!

  10. andmorefood says:

    this is such an elegant spread!

  11. laurasmess says:

    Bryan! The man with the crab shorts!! (that’s a poor reference point but I’m right? Yes? I’ve tried to convince Aaron to buy some since but he just raised an eyebrow at me… darn it). Beautiful appetiser Lindsay. I’ve never heard of rillettes but the combination of flavours sounds delicious. And a huge congrats to your beautiful cousin, weddings are such joyeous occasions (particularly after a glass of champagne, haha!). Hope that the planning towards yours is going well? xo

  12. savvychef2013 says:

    Perfect starter for Easter brunch…. add bubbly, and maybe skip brunch?? Mmmmm…. could happen!! Thanks for your great blog!!

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