Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spicy Sardine Rillettes


This one is for your fancy-schmancy appetizer file. Between you and me, it's fancy, but not really schmancy ~ it's a one-bowl affair, inexpensive, and once you get the spoon-wrangling down, you'll own this. And when someone asks, "So, what are you bringing to the cocktail party?" You can say, "Oh, well, I have ten minutes between picking up the kids from soccer and my Zumba workout, so I thought I'd throw together some sardine rillettes." And they will totally hate you for being a rockstar. Which you are.

Now, you see the crackers my rillettes are reclining on? Those are Walkers Mini Oatcakes. The very nice folks at Walkers sent me a selection of their oatcakes ~ or oat crackers, as we Yanks like to say ~ so that I could have some fun playing around with recipe ideas. And much fun was had! (Stay tuned for more recipes down the road in the holiday season.)
I've served these wonderful oatcakes from Walkers many times before, and they're especially good with hard cheese (check out the picture of my gorgeous black currant and apple cheese from England ~ so good).
I am very fond of these oatcakes for toppings that require some substance in their supporting players ~ you want a cracker with enough gusto to stand up to your spread, not fall apart and leave your delicious sardine rillette on the floor for the cat.

And so, before we get down to whipping up our terribly luxe party snacks, let's take a look at a few deets:
  • Don't get hamstrung by the French ~ it's pronounced "ree-YEHTS." Practice so you can say it loud and proud.
  • What exactly is a rillette? Long story short, it's some variety of meat (e.g., pork, rabbit, fois gras, poultry, or fish) that is cooked with seasonings and fat and then ground into a paste along with additional fat and then chilled ~ sometimes molded ~ until it is smooth and similar in consistency to pate. In this case, sardines are the meat and butter is our fat. 
  • Don't fuss too much over the shape ~ it's best, that is, most traditional, if you can form a quenelle ~ tres chic! ~ but if you can't be bothered, just perch a healthy dollop artfully onto a cracker. 
  • Chill the the quenelles ~ but not the crackers ~ until right before serving. Here's a tip ~ form your quenelles and place them on thin slices of radish, then place these on a plate in the fridge. Right before serving, arrange your crackers (or flatbread or toasted baguette slices) on a platter and then place one radish slice/quenelle atop each and garnish with parsley or something green and spriggy. Serve immediately and accept your accolades gracefully.
 
Spicy Sardine Rillettes
  • 1 can sardines in hot sauce or mustard, drained and spines removed
  • 3 tablespoons good-quality butter at room temperature (either salted or unsalted)
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 generous tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in small mixing bowl and mash with fork until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Form into small quenelles using two teaspoons, chill for 30 minutes, and serve on oatcakes or crackers, garnished with radish or cucumber slices and parsley sprigs.

1 comment:

  1. Not only a fab way to use sardines, but also a great way to use up 10 minutes before Zumba.

    First time to your blog, and it was the Sardine Rillettes that brought me here cuz I for one, know the meaning of the word and just had to see how you made them. I will be making these in my Thermomix for the next party and I can't wait. Sardines, BUTTER, lemon... What more could you need? Oh yes, my favorite oat cakes are in there too! Perfect. Thank you!

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