Friday, April 13, 2012

Sardine Rillettes - French Fridays with Dorie

I was happy when I saw this week's recipe. When I first got my cookbook, I went through it and marked off all the recipes I wanted to try, and this was one of them. The dear ole hubs loves sardines and I love simple recipes. Win-win.

But I started getting nervous after reading some of the other bloggers. I've never actually tasted a sardine before. And I'm still not totally sure what rillettes are. I was imagining a spread similar to the heavenly smoked trout dip they used to serve at Houston's when I worked there.

Well, my guess wasn't too far off, but there's definitely something *special* about these rillettes.

Why should I have been nervous? I eat sushi, for crack sake! And I'm not talking about California rolls or Philly rolls, as good as they are. Hubs and I want to go to an omakase where, for the first course, they'll test us with soupbowls of extra fresh fish before they start sending over the good stuff. We just saw Jiro Dreams of Sushi and we drooled throughout the entire movie. So if I can't stomach a measly sardine, then what? Our dreams are dashed. Look for us at the conveyor belt sushi bar.

I decided to use only one can of sardines - why waste two? - and I went with chives for the fresh herbs. I couldn't be sure how the dill or cilantro would taste with the sardines, so I wanted to play it safe. The recipe wasn't complicated - the hardest part was the tasting. After I added the sardines, I tried a teeny bit to see if I needed to add more salt. Hmmm...not too bad. Kind of okay. And then, all of a sudden, I started to feel nauseated. Ack! I knew it was just my head and my stomach in a battle of wills, but it was best not to think about it or eat any more. Cover and chill and worry about it later. 

All day today, the little bowl in the fridge taunted me. If I wanted to get my blog post up on French Friday, I'd have to taste the damn recipe and take pictures. I could wait no longer.

I plated some crackers and rillettes to take photos and my son came right over. "What's that?" he asked. "I want."

"Are you sure?" I imagined the face he'd make when he tried one. I hoped he wouldn't spit it out onto the floor.

"I want." He grabbed a rillette and shoved it into his mouth. I grabbed a napkin.

"Mmmmm!" His mouth was full of sardines, onions, cream cheese and crackers. Did I mention, he's 2?

"Seriously? You like it?" Shock and awe.

"Yes. More, please."

It's official. My son is a foodie in the making. I'm so proud that he's not afraid to try new foods, but it makes one thing clear. I'm totally pathetic. I spread some rillettes on a cracker and popped it in my mouth. Hmmm...not too bad. Kind of okay. And then, all of a sudden, I realized he was right. It was good. 

The rillettes benefited from the overnight flavor meld. Half of the bowl was gone before dear ole hubs even came home. And he - the only person in the house whom I thought would like this dish - was like, meh. Ha!

Oh, and that *special* something about this dish? Well, it's certainly...aromatic. I think pressing the plastic wrap against the surface of the rillettes is really to keep the odor from permeating your whole refrigerator. Be forewarned!

See what the other bloggers thought here. Surprisingly, it looks like a majority of the others liked it too!

The verdict: grade: B, I'd probably make this again as written, but I'd definitely like to try some other versions - salmon, tuna and smoked trout come to mind.

Thanks for reading, and happy eats!


  1. Fun post - I am enjoying reading everyone's reactions to this dish.
    The plastic wrap definitely served it's purpose in keeping the house smelling a little bit less like a pier...
    Have a great weekend

    1. Yeah, you're not kidding! It took quite a while for the odor to go away!

  2. Have never tried sushi, but who knows, I am only 80. I did get a big kick out of the various comments
    about sardines this week, it's amazing to see the reactions. Tricia and I both enjoyed making this recipe
    and will probably repeat it again. Glad you enjoyed the rillettes, it certainly looks delicious.

    1. Sushi is definitely an acquired taste. Most importantly, you have to go to a good place or else it can make you very, very sick. You probably wouldn't want to start eating it now anyway, since I saw an article today about a salmonella outbreak in the east linked to yellowfin tuna in sushi products. Yikes!

  3. You are lucky lucky! What an little adventurous little palate. You should take pictures every time he eats something that could potentially turn him off later - "but you used to love sardines and I have proof!"

    1. I know! It's so funny how his taste changes. Sardines and onions are OK now, but pasta's not. Such a strange one.

  4. What a nice post and great photos. My kids loved eating the Sardine Rillettes as well, all of them, they even requested that I make them again. Glad you and your family liked them too! Have a nice weekend!

  5. Loved hearing how your son wanted it without even knowing what it was. He must be easy to feed. I'm glad you enjoyed this. I did too. I think this would just as good (or better) with smoked trout.

  6. Trae, Sardines are really good for you. Great that your 2-year old likes them. Cultivate those taste buds early. I just loved the idea of rillettes although wasn't crazy about the sardine version. Mary