Salmon Rillettes


While training at the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, Anna Zepaltas learned that French cooking doesn’t have to be intimidating or fussy. “Making rillettes is a way of showing my girlfriends that it’s really not hard,” she says. For her rillettes, inspired by a similar dish at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon bistro in the Napa town of Yountville, Zepaltas blends fresh salmon and butter with hot-smoked salmon to give the rich spread extra-rich flavor. You can pour melted butter over the top—as Keller does—to seal in freshness. Slideshow: Recipes from Thomas Keller 

Salmon Rillettes
Photo: © Eric Wolfinger
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
2 cups


  • 1/2 pound center-cut, skinless salmon fillet

  • 1 tablespoon anise-flavored liqueur, such as Pernod

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground white pepper

  • 1 celery rib

  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise

  • 1 small onion, quartered lengthwise

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 4 cups water

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 large shallot, minced (1/4 cup)

  • 1/2 tablespoon sour cream

  • 1/4 pound skinless hot-smoked salmon, flaked

  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika

  • Toasted baguette slices, for serving


  1. On a plate, sprinkle the salmon with the anise liqueur and season with salt and white pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring the celery, leek, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, wine and water to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes.

  3. Add the salmon to the pan, cover and remove from the heat; let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the salmon, picking off any peppercorns, and refrigerate until chilled, about 45 minutes. Flake the salmon.

  4. In a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened. Let cool.

  5. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until smooth. Whisk in the sour cream. Add the cooled shallot, along with the poached and smoked salmon, chives, lemon juice, olive oil and paprika and stir until combined. Season the rillettes with salt and white pepper. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Make Ahead

The rillettes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Pack into a crock and press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface.

Suggested Pairing

Smooth, apple-rich Napa Valley Chardonnay.

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