I do so enjoy a recipe that breaks away from the rules! The cooking method using salmon is different from using meat – no long cooking involved – but the soft, shredded texture is the same. I like to mix smoked and fresh salmon, cooking them separately, then shredding the meat and stirring in plenty of butter.  Inexpensive smoked salmon trimmings are good for this recipe. Accented with a squeeze of lemon juice, the flavor is luxurious.  Serve the rillettes with whole wheat toast or crusty bread.

  • ½ lb piece of fresh salmon
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, more for sealing
  • 6 oz smoked salmon or lox
  • Juice ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Salt

1. To cook salmon: put fish in a small frying pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add water to half cover. Add a lid and simmer until fish is just tender, 4-6 minutes depending on thickness. Set aside to cool and discard liquid. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the frying pan with 1 tablespoon water. Add smoked salmon, cover, and cook over medium heat until no longer transparent, 2-3 minutes. Let cool also.

2. Transfer cooked salmon to a chopping board, discarding liquid and skin. Add cooked smoked salmon and shred both together with two forks, discarding any bones. Cream remaining butter in a bowl. Stir salmon mixture into butter using a fork. Season with lemon juice, nutmeg and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning – salt may not be needed as smoked salmon is salty.

3. Pack rillettes in ramekins or a bowl, smoothing the surface. For storage, seal surface with melted butter, cover and store in refrigerator up to 3 days. Serves 4.

Photo Credit: Christine Matsuda