Friday, 11 January 2008

Smoked Trout Rillettes

We were introduced to a wonderfully tasty version of rillettes made from Atlantic salmon to accompany warm sourdough baguette slices as an amuse bouche at a recent restaurant visit. There was pretty decent plain butter on the table as well but that was soon all but forgotten once we'd started smearing the equally buttery and lightly savoury salmon-based spread onto our crusty pieces of bread. So when we were expecting visitors over for New Year's eve dinner, I was inspired to attempt to conjure up something similar to spice up a starting cheese and antipasto platter. A brief search on the internet led me to David Lebovitz's great recipe for salmon rillettes, which uses a combination of poached (or steamed) salmon flesh and cold-smoked salmon and is probably quite close to the version we had at the restaurant. However being time constrained and a bit lazy, I simplified and slightly modified the recipe by substituting salmon for a single hot-smoked trout bought from a market deli instead. This eliminated any need for pre-cooking the fish although the final product was probably just a little bit less bright in colour, and smokier and more savoury in flavour. Perfectly nothing wrong with that though as it still looked pretty sexy and tasted fantastic!

Smoked trout rillettes:
250-300 g flesh from one hot-smoked trout (~30 cm), removed from bones
50-60 g unsalted butter
1 Tbp grassy extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbps chopped chives
1 Tbp chopped mint
1/2 Tbsp chopped dill or fennel tops
1/4 tsp smoked paprika and pinch of chilli flakes
Juice of half a lemon and 1/4 tsp zest

The preparation couldn't be easier. Simply emulsify the softened butter with the olive oil using a fork or hand-whisk, then add all of the ingredients into a food processor and whizz to combine into a spread-like consistency. However, do not overblend into an absolute smooth paste as you would want to retain at least some of the filligreed texture in the spread. Once you're happy with the texture, season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Scrape into a dish, cover with cling wrap and chill for at least a couple of hours. Serve at room temperature with crackers or even better, toasted slices of pide or other crusty bread.

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