A rillette is made from meat, (usually pork or game), that is slowly cooked in fat or a flavored liquid, and then pounded into a paste using some or all of the cooking liquid. The resulting paste is then placed in a jar or ramekin and capped with fat, which allows the meat to cure and the flavors to meld. In this recipe, we take the concept of a rillette and apply it to salmon scrap that we generated during the fabrication process. For additional resources, please see the notes section at the end of this recipe.
Note: This recipe is formulated to scale up and down depending on how much salmon you have. Each ingredient is calculated using the baker's percentage, with the main ingredient (the salmon) set at 100%.
- Combine all ingredients, except lemon and tarragon, and place in either a chamber vacuum bag (if using sous vide method) or in an oven safe container. If using the oven method, place the butter and white wine on the bottom of the container to prevent the salmon flesh from sticking and cover tightly with tin foil.
- Cook salmon at 131°F/55°C in an immersion circulator for 30 minutes (sous vide), or place covered container in a 350°F/176°C oven for 20 minutes (oven poaching), until the salmon is mid-rare and easily flakes.
- After cooking, place warm salmon and liquid in a mixing bowl. While the salmon is still warm, break it apart with you finger tips (gloves are helpful here), stirring it into the cooking liquid to form a loose paste. Don't over mix; some particle definition is desired in this application.
- Add chopped tarragon, lemon zest and juice and mix with hands to combine.
- Prep ramekins or glass jars with a fine misting of non-stick cooking spray and then spoon in rillette mixture, leaving 1 centimeter of extra space at the top of the container.
- Top rillette mixture with melted clarified butter and allow to chill in refrigerator at least overnight. Rillettes, like many cured products, will get better with age.
This recipe calls for pure sodium nitrite, not curing salt. Although the nitrite is optional, I would highly recommend using it if you plan on curing the rillettes longer than a week before serving.
Also remember that fat (in this case the clarified butter cap) easily absorbs aromas. If storing the rillettes for longer than a few days in your refrigerator, I recommend covering the top with plastic wrap so that it will not take on the flavors of the other aromatic food products stored alongside it.
Think of this rillette as a cured, salmon spread. It is great spread on simple baguette toast points,sourdough bread, brown bread, or seeded lavash crackers. Garnish with a little frisee, minced red onion, and/or capers. The brininess of capers is also a nice addition to the rich texture and flavor this rillette creates.