I've written before about luck. I don't win contests, I don't find parking places, I never get in the right line. But when it comes to friends, I'm very lucky. I've written a little about them and now I'm doing it again.
We have some friends who live near us. He is a fly fisherman, and he loves to fish in the rivers around here. He catches lots and lots of trout. Sometimes he gets tired of eating them, and he cleans them and puts them in his freezer. Then he gives them to me.
These trout are lovely, large and fat. They come to me frozen, and I thaw them for a couple of days in the fridge, then I treat them as gently as possible. This time there were three of them. I rinsed them, rubbed the insides with lemongrass and kefir lime leaves, slid some lemon slices in there, and put them under the grill in the oven.
We ate on the terrace. The trout, a salad, and some fruit for dessert. A lovely meal. That's not the story for today, however. Today's story is about what I did with the third trout. I made rillettes (pronounced ree-yet-euh).
Rillettes are traditionally made with pork; shreds of the meat are cooked slowly in pork fat (similar to duck confit), mixed with spices and packed in a small crock with enough of the fat to make a sort of paté. The result is incredibly delicious, and one of those things that make me hate the people who can eat this stuff without weighing a bazillion kilos. Sigh...
But I digress. Rilettes are also sometimes made with duck, goose, even fish. I had a whole cooked trout. I had some smoked salmon in the fridge. I wanted to make rillettes, and I wanted to see if I could make them without so much fat.
I began by doing what I always do--I collected as many recipes as I could find and compared them to see what ingredients were required, and in what proportions. Heh, there was almost no agreement, which made me think that the field was wide open―I could do what I wanted. And so I did.
I wanted rillettes that were a little rustic, a little bit chunky. I wanted the bits of fish to be discernible in the mix. I also didn't want too many spices or other strong flavors in there, so that the fish could shine. I didn't want the smoked salmon to overpower the delicate trout, so I cooked it (heresy!). I added only a little cream and a little butter. It took surprisingly little of both to give a lovely flavor to the fish―all of the recipes I found used lots more butter and/or cream. I added some chopped chives and some flat leaf parsley―as much for a little color as for the flavor. Next time I might squeeze a little lemon juice in there, but then again I might not. It was veryvery nice.
Rillettes are traditionally served with rounds of crusty baguette or small toasts. I had some small toasts, but I also had some wholegrain crackers that were perfect with this. We also ate it on endive leaves, which would be a pretty presentation for a dinner party. I confess that I ate some of it on a fork, as well...
Even though I had carefully removed the cooked trout from the bones, there were a lot of tiny bones that I found when I was flaking the fish with my fingers. It took forever to get them out! I think it was the trout's revenge. It was worth it in the end, though.
When I was finished making the rillettes, I packed them into pretty little crocks and gave one to the friends who had given us the fish. Even though he was a little tired of trout, he was not at all tired of trout rillettes! I'm kind of hoping that he'll catch a smoked salmon and not want to eat it...
Rillettes of Trout and Smoked Salmon
200 g / 4 oz cooked trout
200g / 4 oz smoked salmon
2 Tablespoons cream
2 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon fresh chives
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
- Cook the smoked salmon gently over low heat, just until it becomes pale and is no longer transparent. Cool.
- In a large bowl, flake the trout, being careful to remove any small bones that appear as you work. When the salmon is cool, add it to the trout, and break the pieces of both fish into small bits.
- Add the cream and the butter, mixing well.
- Chop the herbs finely. Add them to the bowl and mix well.
- Pack into a pretty crock or bowl for serving.
Makes about 1 ½ cups. Serves 8-10 as an appetiser.
- I used salted butter for this. I think it probably needs that. If you use unsalted butter, you might add a pinch of salt. A tiny one.
- You can use a fork to flake the fish, but I used my hands. It helped me to feel the small bones, and it was fun to do.
- It goes without saying that this should be stored in the fridge. But it should be served at room temperature. If it's too cold, the delicate flavors of the trout and the butter are lost.
- I squeezed a drop of lime juice over this as I ate it. YUM! I would have used lemon, but I only had limes.
- I liked this rustic, sort of chunky. If you wanted it smoother, you could whiz it in a food processor for a minute or two. I'd pulse it, though, so it didn't get too broken down.