Blog Archives

french fridays with dorie: sardine rillettes

Not every one of the recipes we’ve made for French Fridays with Dorie over the past 18 months has been a winner across the board. Everyone has different tastes, and while there were some recipes that were widely liked, and some that had mixed results, I can’t remember a recipe that generated as much advanced dread as this week’s Sardine Rillettes.

In my opinion, sardines get a bad rap. The first time I ever ate sardines was in France, and they didn’t come out of a can. At the tail end of a whirlwind driving tour of France (one week, 2000 kilometers), we stopped to visit a family friend in Nantes where they grilled fresh sardines over a wood fire for dinner. We had never had anything like it before. To this day, it was one of the best meals I ever ate. It was years before we were able to replicate this dish stateside as fresh sardines are a rare sighting at the fish market, and when I find them, they are usually flown in from Greece or some other Mediterranean spot. But, I digress.

I like most fish. I even like the oily, strong-tasting fish, like bluefish or mackerel. I also enjoy smoked fish. Sardines fit right in with these not-always-popular flavors. We eat canned sardines for the occasional lunch, by choice. In fact, a couple weeks before the April recipes were nominated, I bought a multi-pack of sardines at Costco, willingly and without any prompting.

This is a long-way of saying the Sardine Rillettes did not scare me in the least. And, now, having made them, they didn’t disappoint either. This recipe was similar to recipes I’ve made for smoked bluefish and smoked trout pâté. For this recipe, flaked canned sardines are deboned and then pureed with a cream cheese base along with herbs (I used parsley and dill) and other aromatic flavors. It chills overnight for the flavors to meld.

The recipe made a generous amount of fishy spread. We enjoyed the rillettes on crackers as an appetizer. I also spread it on toasted rye bread for breakfast. And, one night, I thinned the sardine rillettes with Greek yogurt and tossed it with ziti for dinner. I definitely got good mileage from the recipe.

It was a hit at my house, and I would definitely make it again. I would consider changing up the type of fish for variation. Smoked trout would make tasty rillettes too.

You can check out how other brave Doristas made out with their sardines here.

We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of the book, Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Now, to talk about scary food, next week’s recipe is for coconut friands, a sort of mini-cake. Shredded coconut is one food that I don’t do, and it’s not up for negotiation. Fortunately, my sister Jane and her family are huge coconut fans, so I’ve enlisted her help. She’s made the friands and will be guest posting for me next Friday to share her outcome. Stop by and check out what she has to say.