Salmon Rillettes


Recipe by Dorie Greenspan

This recipe is a great do-ahead spread to serve pre-dinner. Use it for Thanksgiving!!

Yield: 8 servings



  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small red chile
  • ½ cup white wine or white Vermouth
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 white peppercorns
  • 5 coriander seeds
  • 2 small spring onions, peeled, long green tops removed and reserved, or 1 shallot
  • ½ pound salmon filet, skin and bones removed, cut into small (about ½ inch) cubes
  • ¼ pound smoked salmon (you can add up to 2 ounces more, if you’d like), cut into small (about ¼ inch) dice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 to 3 pinches of pink peppercorns, crushed with your fingers
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper


  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove a strip of zest from the lemon and toss it into a medium-sized saucepan; finely grate the rest of the zest and keep the lemon at hand. With a small knife, cut away a sliver of the red chile, discard the seeds and toss the sliver into the saucepan; seed and finely dice the remainder of the chile and hold on to it for the moment.
  2. Pour the wine or Vermouth and water into the pan, add the bay leaf, peppercorns, coriander, onion tops (if you’re using spring onions) and ½ teaspoon salt and put the pan over medium heat. Bring the mix, essentially a court bouillon, to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  3. Drop the cubes of fresh salmon into the pan, cover and poach the fish for just 1 minute. Turn everything into a strainer, drain, and then transfer the salmon, minus whatever seasonings have stuck to it, to a mixing bowl.
  4. While the salmon is cooling, finely chop the spring onions or peel, trim and finely dice the shallot. If you’re using a shallot, rinse the dice under cold water and pat dry.
  5. With the back of a fork, lightly mash the poached salmon, then toss the smoked salmon, lemon zest, diced chile and chopped onion into the bowl. Season with salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Add the soften butter and use the fork to stir and mash it into the mixture until it’s well incorporated and you have a thick spread. Squeeze about half of the lemon’s juice into the bowl, stir it in and season the rillettes with salt and pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice (it’s nice when it’s lemony), salt and pepper, if you’d like, then stir in the pink peppercorns.
  6. Pack the rillettes into a jar (a canning jar is traditional) or bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and chill for at least 2 hours – you want it to be firm – or for up to overnight.


Serving: Rillettes is served as a spread, so have lots of bread, crackers or toast available. If you’d like to dress it up, serve the rillettes on warm blini (page 000) or spread on small rounds of toasted brioche (think canapes) and top with salmon roe.

Storing: Packed airtight, the rillettes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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