Make Ahead

Sardine Rillettes

April 20, 2013
0 Ratings
  • Makes about 2 cups
Author Notes

Rillettes, a spread like pâté, are commonly made with slowly-cooked meat, but fish rillettes, which generally require no cooking, are perfect for an impromptu apéritif or a picnic on the go. It takes barely 10 minutes to prepare.
The ingredients are basic: soft cheese, canned sardines and whatever herbs and spices you happen to have -€” within reason. Did you notice there is no butter? It might sound surprising for a French recipe (but hey! there is cheese!). On this side of the Atlantic, many recipes seem to include butter -€” and some, in fact, call this dish "€œsardine butter"€. While I don't dislike the butter, I prefer the freshness that a good soft cheese such as Neufchâtel imparts. I also prefer using sardines packed in spring water instead of oil. If you really miss the olive oil, add a drizzle of it at the end of the recipe. —Bee @ deuxdilettantes

What You'll Need
  • 2 cans sardines packed in spring water
  • 3 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1.5 ounces fennel bulb (white part), finely diced
  • 1/2 shallot, finely diced
  • juice of 1 lemon, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pinch of piment d'Espelette (or cayenne pepper)
  • between 2.5 and 3 ounces Neufchâtel (or any other mild soft cheese: goat cheese, ricotta, cream cheese)
  1. Drain the sardines and put them in a bowl. If they haven't been boned, separate them into two fillets and remove the central bone. Using a fork, coarsely mash the sardines. Then, add the chives, fennel and shallot. Add some lemon juice, salt, pepper and a pinch of piment d'Espelette (or cayenne pepper). Mix well.
  2. In another bowl, whip your cheese until it's smooth and stir it into the sardine mixture. Mix until you have the desired consistency -€” I like it coarsely mixed, but some may prefer a smoother texture. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon juice, salt, pepper or some olive oil if you feel it's missing. Transfer into a bowl or jar. It's ready!
  3. Alternative preparation: Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard instead of piment d'Espelette or cayenne pepper. This recipe also works with canned tuna, mackerel and salmon. It can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days .

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