Sardines – they’re usually NOT what’s for dinner. But, packed with good stuff like Omega 3s, calcium, vitamins B12 and D, not to mention protein, these little nuggets are worth getting to know better. To top it all off, they are one of the most sustainable fish you can buy because they are so plentiful and multiple so quickly, being at the bottom of the fish food chain. I have enjoyed them in salads but was thrilled to see that Around My French Table made them into Rillettes, perfect for snacks, light dinners or a party.
Traditionally rillettes are made from slow cooked pork, duck or goose, cooked in its own fat. When I was volunteering at Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley we made some amazing pork rillettes and I have been hooked ever since. But Dorie Greenspan in Around My French Table pointed out that people are making rillettes from not only sardines but salmon as well. It’s a whole new world!
Unlike pork or fowl rillettes this version should be eaten within 1-2 days of making it; otherwise the fish flavor begins to overpower everything else. Do be sure to get really fresh green herbs; they make all the difference!
2 packages 2.5 oz sardines packed in olive oil
2 1/2 oz cream cheese (or neufchatel)
2 shallots, minced
2 green onions, sliced thin, white and light green parts
4 tablespoons fresh herbs, minced (parsley, cilantro, dill)
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Gently mash cream cheese with herbs, shallots, green onions, lemon juice, salt and cayenne. Remove sardines from oil and cut down the middle and remove the backbone (depending on the size of the sardine, it will be like a gold link chain). Discard bones and mash into cream cheese mixture. Taste for additional salt and or lemon juice. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and serve with crackers.