Top | Around My French Table
(recipe, Dorie Greenspan)
Time was, not so long ago, that if you said "rillettes," it was understood that you were talking about a rich, salty spread made from pork, goose, or duck slowly cooked in its own fat. Nowadays rillettes is just as likely to be piscine as porcine and more than likely to be lighter and less rich. While salmon rillettes is the one you find most often at restaurants and cocktail parties, sardine rillettes is giving it a run for first place. This rillettes, made in under 10 minutes, is a combination of canned sardines, shallots, herbs, and cream cheese (low fat, if you'd like). You can use skinless, boneless fillets, but I think you get more flavor if you buy sardines in olive oil, bone them yourself (it takes a second per fish), and leave the skin in place. Obviously the cream cheese is an American stand-in, but it's a very good one. In France you'd use fromage frais, a soft, smooth, mild cheese that is as common as yogurt and found right next to the yogurt in every supermarket in the country. If you can get it, of course you can use it, but there's no need to go out of your way for it; cream cheese is more than fine. Rillettes is usually served with small toasts or crackers (it's perfect on Triscuits), and it also lends itself to being used as a filling.
Variations: Add a few thin slices of cornichon pickles or a spoonful or two of capers to the mixture. Serving: Offer the rillettes in a bowl surrounded by toasted country bread, crackers, or Pringles, if you dare. Or use it as a stuffing for cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, or piquillo or Peppadew peppers. Storing: Wrapped airtight, the rillettes will keep for up to 2 days. Stir well before serving.