My last post featured the main dish I chose for Phil’s birthday dinner. Now it’s time to share with you a nice appetizer from the same evening: salmon rillettes. When we lived in Paris, rillettes were a favorite item we ordered in restaurants. Often pork, sometimes duck rillettes. In one of the little neighborhood bistrots, Aux Artistes, they would serve them (as well as their country terrine) family style. A big dish would be brought to the table, so you could serve yourself some, then the waiter would take it away for others to enjoy. Very civilized in that unique French way. Hard to imagine the same situation in the US. What? You expect me to eat something that was already on someone else’s table?  Manipulated by other human beings? You must be out of your mind!  I say “Vive la différence!”  And pass me the rillettes, will you?

I found this recipe in Karen’s site. She loved it so much that she confessed to having it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner several days in a row. That, my friends, is what food endorsement is all about.  I knew I had to make it sooner rather than later.

Salmon Rillettes2

(from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)

1 lemon
1/2 cup vermouth
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced in half, one half minced
5 to 10 white peppercorns
5 to 10 coriander seeds
2 to 3 green onions, cut into 3 inch slices
1/2 pound salmon fillet, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 ounces smoked salmon (peppered coho smoked salmon, if available)
3 tablespoons unsalted and softened butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp pink peppercorns, crushed
1/2 tsp crushed red peppers
With a vegetable peeler, cut off a strip of the peel of the lemon.  Finely zest the rest of the lemon and set the zest aside. Set the lemon aside.
Place the unchopped half of the jalapeno into a small saucepan. Add the vermouth, water, bay leaf, peppercorns, and coriander seeds. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add the green onions and fresh salmon cubes. Reduce the heat to low, cover,  and simmer for three to five minutes. Drain in a colander. Discard the vegetables and place the salmon in a medium bowl.
Mash the salmon roughly with a fork. Add the smoked salmon and mash with a fork.  Add the butter and blend with a fork.  Add some of the juice from the lemon, the lemon zest, along with some salt and pepper to taste.  Add the shallots, minced jalapeno, crushed pink peppercorns, and crushed red pepper. Mix thoroughly. Stir in more lemon juice, to taste.
Pack the mixture into a canning jar or other container. Press the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to a day before serving for the first time. The rillettes will last up to 3 or 4 days.


to print the recipe, click here



Comments: This was incredibly tasty, just as Karen promised it would be, and got better each day.  The mixture of smoked salmon with the lightly poached fish, the lemon, the spices, everything works together in perfect harmony. It is surprisingly mild in flavor. Plus, what a fun recipe to make!  I don’t know why I never attempted rillettes at home, but now that I did, I feel like trying my hands at some pork rillettes, served ‘comme il faut’, with those small cornichons, and a crusty baguette. I will be catapulted straight back to Aux Artistes, although between you and me, the place brings mixed feelings. Yeah, the food was awesome, prices affordable, great atmosphere. but the owner, a gorgeous blonde, tall, bright-blue-wandering eyes, could not – I repeat – could not stop flirting with Phil. Oh, well… as a mentor of mine used to say… attractive people attract.  I took it all with my best smile, sips of Bordeaux, and a few discreet but assertive kicks under the table.  Let’s keep in mind though, that two can play that game. Not that I would ever… you know, I am just not the vindictive type…


I hope you try this recipe on your next dinner party. Not only it is unusual and elegant, but you will be better off making it in advance. It’s the hostess’ dream come true!

Karen, once again I should thank you for the constant inspiration!


ONE YEAR AGO: Special Important Announcement

TWO YEARS AGO: Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad

THREE YEARS AGO: Keema Beef Curry

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin with Soy, Ginger, and Lime

FIVE YEARS AGO: No-Fuss Coffee Cake

SIX YEARS AGO: Swedish Limpa



  1. This sounds delicious and we too enjoyed rillettes in Paris. Isn’t it funny how we adapt our behavior and mindsets in other places. You’re right at home sharing plates with other tables wouldn’t fly, but elsewhere, why not! Funny. Kicking under the table…I adore you Sally! Too funny. 😊


    • So true! Behavior changes a lot, and it’s nice to be flexible enough to adapt quickly to a different culture – which you will be doing soon in great style! Can hardly wait to start following your new life in Poland!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love it Sally! Two favorites around here for football treats, one on the lighter side a déclassé version, Sunset magazine had a smoked salmon chive spread that has been a staple around here and I’ve converted a few salmon haters and a recipe that I know by heart. The other is Eric Ripert’s recipe when I get super fresh salmon…I love both and now yours made with butter surely will not hang around 3-4 days. Thanks Sally.


  3. Fantastic rillette recipe I normally make somewhat differently, so shall do a faithful copy! Not surprised at it improving in the first few days: well, curries are best 2nd and 3rd days too, aren’t they 🙂 ? Some say 4th when I begin to worry!! And I love sharing big salvers with others and everyone smiling at everyone else and nodding: how ‘fun’ and ‘homelike’ {OK, don’t take this as ‘showing off’ – Hassler Hotel, Rome, Rooftop Rest – Easter Sunday – Sweden’s King [Gustav whatever in those days], sat down at the next table, sniffed at my just served newborn lamb and said ‘Good?’ . . . ‘Would you like to taste?’ – he actually did and ordered the same!!!! When his came I got a huge bite back from him!!!! Tasted twice as good and made a memory 😀 !! . . . ] . And who would blame the owner of the ‘Aux Artistes’ for having a few ‘fluffy moments’ . . . .Phil did go home with you!!!!!


  4. Oh, I do like the sound of this, Sally. I do foresee a problem. How ever will I find out how much better it is on day 2, let alone day 3? If I made it for a party, I’d keep nibbling it and in all likelihood it would be gone before the first guests arrive. Making a double batch is soo not the answer. 🙂


  5. Interesting story with the passing around of the rilettes in the French restaurant, I really like that idea! Makes it so much more communal and fun (as long as everyone washes their hands!) I’ll have to make these for my next dinner party!


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