If you are a fan of the classic pork rillettes, or even if you've never heard of them, this turn with salmon will delight you. Rillettes are usually meats cooked in highly seasoned fat, then pounded into a paste, placed in pots, and covered with fat to preserve them. It is much the same as a smooth confit. The use of both fresh and smoked salmon results in a lighter-tasting nibble, yet it still has that rich, wonderful mouthfeel of a rillette. For a cocktail party, these are perfect with just about any wine or spirit. Smoked salmon rillettes are also a surprising first course when served over greens.
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet
- 1 small sprig fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1 cup fish broth, clam broth, or chicken broth
- 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
- 8 ounces skinless smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Place the fresh salmon and thyme in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover it with the broth. Gently heat the broth to a simmer and cook the fillet, turning it once, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it is almost cooked through. It will still be somewhat translucent in the center. It is very important not to overcook the salmon.
Let the salmon cool in the broth to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add the smoked salmon, shallot, and nutmeg and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, or until the salmon turns mostly opaque. Remove the salmon from the pan to a plate, cover tightly, and refrigerate until it is thoroughly cooled.
Remove the cold poached salmon from the broth and pat dry. Cut it into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices, the cold smoked salmon plus any of its juices, and the remaining 1 cup of softened butter on a baking sheet with sides. Using 2 forks or even your fingers (clean, of course), gradually mix all of the ingredients together. You are looking small, thin shards of salmon that are held together with creamy butter.
Place the salmon riIlettes in a container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. The rillettes will keep, covered, for 3 days in the refrigerator. Remove them from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.
To serve as an hors d'oeuvre, spread the rillettes on toast points or crackers. To serve as a first course, divide the salmon equally on top of 8 salad plates with a salad of baby greens dress with a simple vinaigrette.
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