FFWD – Sardine Rillettes

An onion biscuit stuffed with sardine rillettes, with cornichons in the background.

Every summer, my family would go on holiday for the month of August. We’d go “up country” to the lakes north of Kamloops. British Columbia is dotted with freshwater lakes and we visited many of them. We’d stay at one for a while and if the fishing wasn’t good, my Dad would hitch up the Boler trailer and the family would pile back into the car, ready to explore the next forestry campsite. My sister, brother, and I would run through the woods, swim in the lakes, read books by the shore, and at least once a day, we’d go out in the boat to troll for trout. The rule was, If You Catch It, You Clean It and when the fishing was good, we got a lot of practice.

I found myself thinking about these trips the other day, while removing the spine and tail from two tins’ worth of sardines for this week’s recipe. It’s a much easier job than cleaning trout, if a bit fussier. The process is almost as rewarding, though, because rillettes are my new best friend. Forget dip, spread, and stuffing – the only word you need, I’ve found, is rillettes.

A can of sardines, chopped aromatics, and a lime awaiting juicing.

For this recipe, sardines are mashed into a mixture of cream cheese, onions, and herbs, with lime juice and a dash of cayenne for bite. Chilled overnight, the rillettes become a thick, spreadable paste. You might spread it on bread or crackers, use it to stuff eggs or vegetables, or add it to a plate of crudités for dipping.

Sardines mashed into cream cheese, green onions, shallots, herbs and lime.

We still had a big bag of Saint-Germain-des-Prés Onion Biscuits in the freezer, so we baked a few and while they were still warm, filled them with rillettes, with a few cornichons on the side. The next day, we did it again. I’m going to have to make another batch if I want to try these rillettes with anything else. I think a thin layer on rye bread would make an excellent condiment for a Montréal smoked meat sandwich. For example. I might have to try Dorie’s recipe for Salmon Rillettes, first, though. And perhaps I’ll have to get my hands on some rainbow trout and work up a version for that, too. Like I said, rillettes are my new best friend.

A plate full of rillettes-stuffed biscuits, with cornichons on the side.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Sardine Rillettes

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20 thoughts on “FFWD – Sardine Rillettes

  1. I agree, these are so versatile. Another great jumping off point from Dorie. Making sandwiches from the biscuits is a great idea. I don’t know about the smoked meat, but the rillettes were wonderful on rye toast for breakfast. I think rillettes could be my new best friend too.

  2. Oh my, I am very impressed at your versatility with the rillettes- it looks so yummy on the biscuits- what a grand idea! Loved your fishing stories.

  3. I have to tell you, I always used to help my dad clean the fish when I was little; but somehow, these little grey guys I couldn’t deal with… Maybe I am not as strong as I used to be 🙂 But oh man, how fondly I remember that freshly campfire grilled fish…

    I like your rillettes applications and I am looking forward to trying this approach with another species.

    1. It’s funny how things change when we grow up. Some things get easier and some become impossible to contemplate. Hope the salmon or tuna versions work better for you.

    1. I agree, Alice – there are so many possibilities. I’ll have to try some more over the summer, preferably with fresh herbs from my garden, once it grows.

  4. Teresa, I flipped the page this week and made Dorie’s Rillettes de Thon and loved them. I, too, like the “idea” of rillettes, really it’s a paté, and will make it often. Glad you liked it. Pretty Post. Mary

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