"Sardine Rillettes" or "les rillettes de sardine" is a popular appetizer in France. Dorie Greenspan's recipe calls for canned sardines (packed in olive oil), cream cheese, herbs, lemon/lime juice and "piment d'espelette" (ground peppers from the town of Esplette in the French Basque region). French recipes often call for soft goat cheese (chèvre) and tarragon vinegar. The French also serve this appetizer or spread with soft-boiled eggs or tomatoes, crackers or baguette...there seem to be endless variations on this recipe.
My first task was to get good quality sardines packed in olive oil. My favorite Italian store carries only one kind, namely, "Aurora Sardines". They come in large and beautifully designed cans. Although I decided to double the recipe, I still have lots of sardines left. Since the rillettes were such a success at our house, maybe I will prepare some more on the weekend.
In her notes to her recipe, Dorie Greenspan mentiones that in Paris, the sardine rillettes sometimes are served with a scoop of cornichon sorbet and that capers would also be a good addition. Well, I searched the internet high and low for a cornichon sorbet recipe but to no avail. Might have been interesting to try to make some. So while shopping for the sardines, I decided to pick up some cornichons. And a jar of pickled caper berries and some salt packed capers. I use them a lot in my cooking.
Once you assemble all the ingredients, it takes only a few minutes to prepare the rillettes. They can easily be prepared in advance and even improve in taste after a few hours in the fridge. After a first taste test, I decided to add a few chopped capers to the rillettes. Great taste.
As herbs, I chose chives and parsley. They grow in abundance in my garden and they go very nicely with the rillettes.
So when I served them to my family as an appetizer (entrée) to our lunch, I served cornichons and caper berries alongside. I also toasted baguette rounds. Baguette always makes for a nice presentation and my family does not really like crackers all that much.
Everyone enjoyed the sardine rillettes and they liked the toasted baguette slices, cornichons and caper berries on the side.
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