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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
Makes about 2 cups
- 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)
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 .