I did just that last week for the Thanksgiving dinner I go to every year. A few weeks earlier I had made a delicious salmon spread – Salmon Rillettes – made with steamed fresh and smoked salmon, coming up next week on Recipes for Health as one of 5 different recipes for fish rillettes. It was so good, and there was a lot of it, so I decided to freeze it right away and bring it as an appetizer for Thanksgiving dinner. The spread was a great hit, and did not suffer in the least for being frozen.
Rillettes is a rustic French pâté that is traditionally made by cooking pork belly or shoulder slowly in abundant fat, allowing it to cool in the fat, then raking the mixture into a spreadable paste. Other meats – game and rabbit primarily – are also made into rillettes, and lately I’ve been seeing seafood rillettes on lots of menus in Paris and New York. Fish rillettes don’t require the quantity of fat that is needed for meat rillettes. The fat is stirred into the cooked or smoked fish, and you can substitute Greek yogurt for ingredients like butter or crème fraîche if you want to reduce fats and calories. I worked with smoked trout and salmon, smoked sardines and tuna, and couldn’t resist crabmeat as well, as it breaks down so nicely. You can serve the rillettes with bread or crackers, but also as a delicious accompaniment to lentils, or on top of endive leaves or inside mini peppers or cherry tomatoes. If you want to get ahead on healthy hors d’oeuvres for your Christmas parties, these will fit the bill. Recipes will be posted on Recipes for Health the week of December 22.