Authors: Dorie Greenspan
|2||3¾-ounce cans sardines packed in olive oil (see above), drained|
|2½||ounces cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese|
|2||shallots or 1 small onion, minced, rinsed, and patted dry|
|1-2||scallions, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced|
|Juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon, or to taste|
|2-3||tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as chives, cilantro, parsley, and/or dill|
|Pinch of piment d'Espelette (see Sources|
) or cayenne
|Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste|
If you've chosen sardines that have not been boned, use a paring knife to cut them open down the belly and back and separate the fish into 2 fillets. Lift away the bones and, if there is a little bit of tail still attached to the fish, cut it off.
Put the cream cheese in a medium bowl and, using a rubber spatula, work it until it is smooth. Add everything else except the sardines—holding back some of the lime or lemon juice until the rillettes are blended—and mix with the spatula. Add the sardines to the bowl, switch to a fork, and mash and stir the sardines into the mixture. Taste for seasoning, adding more juice, salt, and/or pepper, if you'd like.
Scrape the rillettes into a bowl and cover, pressing a piece of plastic wrap against the surface. Chill for at least 2 hours, or for as long as overnight.
MAKES 1 CUP OR ABOUT 6 SERVINGS
Offer the rillettes in a bowl surrounded by toasted country bread, crackers, or Pringles, if you dare, or use it as a stuffing for cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, or piquillo or Peppadew peppers.
Wrapped airtight, the rillettes will keep for up to 2 days; stir well before serving.
At the avant-garde Parisian bistro Itinéraires, sardine rillettes is served in a martini glass topped with a baby scoop of cornichon sorbet. Pairing the creamy, smooth rillettes with vinegary pickles is both surprising and exciting, and while cornichon sorbet is not very practical at home, adding just a few thin slices of cornichons to the mixture is. In the same spirit, a spoonful or two of capers is an equally lively addition.
HIS SPREAD IS AS HAPPY
sharing a table with the fixings for an American brunch as it is on the buffet of a chic Parisian cocktail party. A mix of quickly poached fresh salmon and bits of smoked salmon, mashed with a fork and seasoned with a little hot pepper and a lot of lemon juice, it can be served pressed into a canning jar (the way you'd serve the most traditional pork rillettes), with a knife and hunks of bread, or spooned onto toast points or blini. Either way, I'd suggest you make more than you think you'll need. While you can certainly cut this recipe in half, do that, and you'll regret it the following day—when, if you're like me, you'll crave the rillettes as a snack.
The rillettes must be refrigerated for at least 2 hours so it firms up.
|1||small red chile pepper|
|½||cup dry white wine or white vermouth|
|2||small spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped, long green tops reserved, or 1 shallot, finely chopped, rinsed, and patted dry|
|½||pound salmon fillet, cut into small (about ½-inch) cubes|
|4-6||ounces smoked salmon, cut into small (about ¼-inch) dice|
|Freshly ground white pepper|
|3||tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature|
|About ¼ teaspoon pink peppercorns, crushed|
|Bread, crackers, or toast, for serving|
Using a vegetable peeler, remove a strip of zest from the lemon and toss it into a medium saucepan. Finely grate the rest of the zest, and set it and the lemon aside. With a small knife, cut away a sliver of the chile pepper; discard the seeds, and toss the sliver into the saucepan. Seed and finely chop the remainder of the chile pepper.
Pour the wine or vermouth and the water into the pan, add the bay leaf, white peppercorns, coriander, onion tops if you're using spring onions, and ½ teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Drop the cubes of fresh salmon into the pan, cover, and poach for just 1 minute. Turn everything into a strainer, drain, and transfer the cubes of salmon to a bowl. Discard herbs, spices, and vegetables.
With the back of a fork, lightly mash the poached salmon. Toss the smoked salmon, grated lemon zest, chile pepper, and chopped onions or shallot into the bowl, season with salt and white pepper, and give everything a good stir. Add the butter and use the fork to stir and mash it into the mixture until it's well incorporated and you have a thick spread. Squeeze about half of the lemon's juice into the bowl, stir it in, and season the rillettes again with salt and white pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice (it's nice when it's lemony) if you'd like, then stir in the pink peppercorns.
Pack the rillettes into a jar (a canning jar is traditional) or bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface, and chill for at least 2 hours—you want it to be firm.
Serve the rillettes with bread, crackers, or toast.
MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS OR 8 SERVINGS
Rillettes is served as a spread, so have lots of bread, crackers, or toast available. If you'd like to dress it up, serve it on warm blini (
) or spread it on small rounds of toasted brioche (think canapés) and top with salmon roe.
Packed airtight, the rillettes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
HIS RECIPE WAS GIVEN TO ME
by my friend Olivier Martina, and from the moment I got it, I've been making it and surprising French and Americans alike. The French do a double take because of the curry powder in the mix, and the Americans keep imagining how good the rillettes would be as a stand-in for regular tuna salad in the classic tuna, lettuce, and tomato on toast. (The answer to "how good?" is "very good.") As with other rillettes—like salmon,
, and sardine,
—this is soft, spreadable, and just a tad rich, and it's also quickly made. However, once it's mixed together (a process that takes less than 10 minutes), I urge you to forget about it for an hour or so—left in the fridge, the flavors blend and the curry powder, as well as that dash of quatre-épices (a mix of ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice), comes to the fore.
Because tuna varies in flavor and moistness, I've given you only a guideline for the quantities of spices and cream. Taste and see for yourself what you'd like.
The rillettes should chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
|2||5- to 6-ounce cans chunk light tuna packed in oil, drained (albacore tuna is too firm and dry)|
|1||shallot, thinly sliced, rinsed, and dried|
|½-1||teaspoon curry powder|
|Up to ¼ teaspoon quatre-épices (see Sources|
) or a very small pinch of ground allspice
|About 3 tablespoons crème fraîche or 3–5 tablespoons heavy cream|
|¼||teaspoon salt, or to taste|
|Freshly ground pepper|
|Fresh lemon or lime juice to taste (optional)|
Put the tuna, shallot, ½ teaspoon curry powder, a pinch of quatre-épices or allspice, 3 tablespoons crème fraîche or heavy cream, the salt, and pepper to taste into a food processor (a mini processor is just right for this job). Whir until the tuna becomes a nice just-right-on-a-cracker paste, then taste it and add more curry, quatre-épices, salt, pepper, and/or cream. Although the flavors will intensify and the texture thicken slightly as the rillettes chills, you'll be able to get a good idea of the balance now. Adjust the seasonings and give the rillettes a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, if you think it needs it—you can always add juice or more of anything else right before serving.
Pack the rillettes into a container, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
MAKES 1 CUP OR ABOUT 6 SERVINGS
I like to offer rillettes as a nibble with drinks. Surround the rillettes with whole-grain crackers and/or slices of tart, crisp apples and make sure to provide a small knife—this is a spread, not a dip.
Covered tightly, tuna rillettes will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
NCE YOU'VE SEEN A SCULPTURE
by the late French artist Arman, you'll recognize his work immediately ever after. Arman's signature piece is a musical instrument, most famously a violin or saxophone, sliced, deconstructed, cast (or not), and mounted. Walk around Paris, and every once in a while, you'll turn and there'll be an Arman to delight you. (There's one in the outdoor sculpture garden along the Seine, another at the entrance to the Palais de Justice.) You'll also find them in several grand restaurants all over the country. Arman was a great friend to great chefs and a very good cook himself.
I got a glimpse of Arman's culinary side in 1988 when we worked together on some of his recipes for a dinner party. While the main course was an earthy, rustic osso buco (
), the passed hors d'oeuvre was pure city-chic: clear wiggly-jiggly cubes of lightly flavored aspic, their bellies scooped out and the resulting indentation filled with caviar. Like Arman's art, these are beautiful, surprising, and fun. They're also delicious.
You'll need about 3 hours for the aspic to set (if it's easier for you, leave it overnight).
|2||cups cold water|
|2||packages unflavored gelatin|
|½||fish bouillon cube, crumbled|
|3||ounces caviar (paddlefish roe, salmon roe, or lumpfish roe)|
Have a 9-×-5-inch metal loaf pan at hand. You can use a Pyrex pan, but it will be a little more difficult to unmold the gelatin and the edges won't be as square.
Set a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, pour in the water, and stir in the gelatin. Reduce the heat to medium and cook gently until the water is hot and the gelatin has completely dissolved. Stir in the crumbled bouillon cube, but don't worry about dissolving it now.
Remove the bowl from the saucepan, pour out the water in the pan, and pour the gelatin mixture into it. Put the pan over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, and boil for about 3 minutes, or until the bouillon is completely dissolved. Pour the liquid into the loaf pan and set it aside to cool.
Skim any foam off the top of the bouillon mixture and refrigerate until the aspic is set, about 3 hours.
(Once the aspic is cold, you can cover the pan and leave it in the fridge overnight.)
Right before serving, carefully run a thin sharp knife around the sides of the pan. Dip the bottom of the pan into hot water, wipe it dry, and unmold the aspic onto a cutting board. Using a ruler as a guide and the thin sharp knife, cut the aspic into 1-inch cubes. Now—this is the tricky part, because the aspic is jiggly—use the knife to cut a square indentation in each cube, stopping before you cut through the bottom. Don't fret if it's not perfect—there's nothing caviar can't cover. Alternatively, you can use the tip of a grapefruit spoon or a teensy melon baller to scoop out a circle of aspic.
Fill each little indentation with caviar, and serve immediately.
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
For the most strikingly artistic presentation, put the aspic squares on a black, white, or clear glass plate. Champagne or vodka is the drink of choice here, but white wine would be very right as well.
You can make the aspic up to 1 day ahead, but once you've crafted the cubes, you need to serve them immediately.