Salmon Rillettes


This recipe comes to Handley courtesy of Coq au Vin

    • 1/2 pound center-cut, fresh skinless salmon filet
    • 1 Tbs anise flavored liqueur, such as Pernod
    • Kosher Salt, to taste
    • Fresh ground white pepper
    • 1 Bay leaf
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1 Tbs Black peppercorn
    • 1 small onion
    • 1 leek
    • 1 celery rib
    • 4 cups water
    • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
    • 2 Tbs finely minced chives
    • 1 Tbs lemon juice
    • 1 large shallot, minced
    • 1/2 tsp sweet or smoked paprika
    • 1 Tbs olive oil
    • Baguette slices, for toasting & serving


In a shallow baking dish, season salmon filet with salt and fresh ground white pepper. Add anise liqueur, coating both sides. Cover and allow to marinate, refrigerated for up to one hour.

Preheat your oven to 375° F and place baguette slices on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and bake until chewy or crispy, between 15 – 25 minutes. Turn slices and rotate pan half-way through. Remove from oven and if desired, rub with a garlic clove sliced in half. Set aside and allow to cool. These can be made many days in advance, as they will keep for several weeks if stored in an air-tight container.

Meanwhile, clarify the butter by heating gently in a small saucepan. Do not stir. As the white foam begins to separate, skim off and discard, using only the clear, golden liquid. Alternately, you can use Ghee, available at gourmet and specialty foods stores and Indian markets. Transfer the warmed butter to a small bowl and set aside.

Combine water, white wine, peppercorns, bay leaf, leek, onion, and celery in a medium size frying pan and heat to a simmer. Add the salmon in Pernod marinade and reduce the flame to low. Cover with a tight fitting lid and allow to steam until the flesh is opaque, about 10 minutes. Remove the salmon and set aside in a medium sized mixing bowl, discarding the aromatics (celery, leek, onion, whole peppercorns) and straining off the remaining liquid. Clean the frying pan and return to medium heat. Add two tablespoons of butter and when foam subsides, add the minced shallots, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Using a fork, gently break the poached salmon into large flakes, being sure to discard any grey flesh. Roughly chop the smoked salmon and combine with the poached salmon. Combine with the lemon juice, minced chives, shallots, paprika, and the reserved clarified butter. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Transfer the salmon rilletttes to a sterilized glass jar or ramekins. Press the rillettes to compact and remove all air bubbles. Drizzle with olive oil or additional clarified butter to form a fat cap. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

Serve the rillettes with the toasted baguette slices, or crackers. These can keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks with the surface fully sealed by the fat cap. Alternately, they may be frozen in 6 ounce, party-platter-ready jars and will keep up to two months.