EATING IN With Ian Greer

A simple starter for St Valentine’s Day

A friend asked me a simple starter for a St Valentine’s dinner – something easy to prepare, preferably in advance, and not oysters as the lady in question is allergic…

I suggested some would argue terrines and pâtés represent much of the best in rustic cooking, simply combining wholesome flavours to good effect would be a great way to start a meal, and so I offered rillettes of salmon. Rillettes are not dissimilar to potted shrimps and make an excellent starter or supper dish. This recipe is quick and easy and the rillettes can be kept sealed under a layer of clarified butter for up to a week.

RILLETTES DE SAUMON

(Serves 6 - 8)

500g (1 lb) piece of fresh salmon, with the bone; 375g (3/4 lb) smoked salmon; 375g (3/4 lb) butter, softened; salt and pepper; pinch of grated nutmeg.

For poaching the fresh salmon – 75 ml (3 fl.oz) white wine.

Fish stock made with the salmon bone – onion; 15g (1/2 oz) butter; 1 litre (1¾ pints) water; 10 peppercorns; bouquet garni.

Method: remove the bone from the fresh salmon and use to make the fish stock. Poach the salmon with the white wine and enough fish stock to cover for 5-7 min or until tender. Do not add salt because the smoked salmon will be salty. Leave to cool in the cooking liquid then remove the salmon and discard the skin. Cool thoroughly.

For cooking the smoked salmon: 30g (1 oz) butter; tablespoon water.

Melt butter in a pan, add the smoked salmon and 1 tablespoon water. Cover and cook for 3 min or until no longer transparent. Leave to cool.

Shred the fresh and smoked salmon with a fork and mix well. Cream the remaining butter and gradually mix into the finely shredded salmon using a fork. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Pack the mixture in individual ramekins or a pottery mould and chill thoroughly. (If you plan to serve them out of the mould, then line with cling-film before filling with the mixture). Serve with thick slices of toast, made from a large baguette.