French Fridays with Dorie: Sardine Rilletes

Sardine Rilletes

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie was one of firsts!  The last time I encountered an ingredient I had never tried before was last summer’s beets for a salad I never got around making.  While this experience is nowhere near as gleeful as that episode, I’m happy to report that I do like sardines.  The sardines were used to make rilletes – a spread of paté like consistency that can made pretty much out of any ingredient.  Dorie Greenspan is a big fan of rilletes – she also features salmon and tuna versions in Around My French Table.  The salmon ones look especially tasty.

I made the rilletes while away for Easter weekend with my in-laws.  They were the easiest audience to test this recipe with: for one, they are the least picky eaters I know (an great trait passed down to Eduardo), and I knew they liked and cooked with sardines.  I took the easy way out and bought boned and skinned ones packed in olive oil.

Sardines in a Can

Mmmh… these don’t seem as tightly packed as I thought ‘sardines in a can’ would be!

The sardines were easily flaked into a bowl and combined with cream cheese, shallots, scallions, cilantro and tons of lemon juice.  Eduardo could not resist making the comment that the finished product looked like something Gatamiaux would enjoy.  Good thing we left her at home!   I waited until the rilletes were set after chilling to venture try them.  I did put a search engine query “what sardines taste like” and the Internet seemed to agree that they were a cross between tuna and anchovies.  I really wanted to like them, especially since they are very healthy due to the high levels of Omega 3s.

I spooned some of the rilletes into a cracker and bit in.  The verdict?  Saltier tuna salad.  I liked sardines!  The leftovers – because the two cans the recipe called for yielded a LOT of spread – ended up in a toasted ciabatta roll for lunch the next day.   What’s more, after I returned home, I got out another can and opened it with the excuse of taking a picture.  Of course, I popped a little filet in my mouth just to see what it was like by itself.  “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Move over, cat!  Sardines are for people in this house!

© sergojpg -

Obviously not Gatamiaux, but if we had let her near the rilletes, she would have had her nose deep in that bowl.

French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group where  we work our way through Around My French Table, Dorie Greenspan’s award winning cookbook.  To check out what the rest of the group thought about the sardine rilletes, click here.  Have a great weekend!

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Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

26 Responses to “French Fridays with Dorie: Sardine Rilletes”

  1. April 13, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Funny – lots of people have said this tasted like tuna! And a lot of people had very hopeful cats hanging around their feet this week!

  2. April 13, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    What a great post and wonderful photos. I do love the picture of the cat…Glad that you enjoyed the sardine rillettes as much as I /we did. Husband and kids were apprehensive at first but then could not get enough. Looking forward to next weeks post.

  3. April 13, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    I wish I had found tuna-tasting sardines – my experience might have been different if I had 🙂

    The cat picture is too funny. Lovely photos!

  4. April 13, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    That’s funny. My sardines weren’t as packed either, but I saw several posts that had tins that were stuffed. Odd.

  5. April 13, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    The cat picture gave me my first laugh of the day! Great job!

  6. April 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    The cat photo is too funny! I’m glad you enjoyed these, I really wanted to. Reading everybody’s posts is making me think that maybe I should try it one more time…

  7. April 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Tuna tasting sardines would have been okay, I’ve just never found them. The cat photo is a winner! That is such a great way to start the day!

  8. April 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    I too am very grateful for a husband who will eat almost anything I cook. He does have a couple of foods on his no-go list, but generally he will try most anything.

    Great post today, and happy to hear that Dorie got you to try a new food. I have had so many firsts with her, it’s one of the reasons I love this project.

  9. April 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    I just couldn’t enjoy this one. Maybe if the sardines had tasted more like tuna, but I don’t know I’m willing to give it another go!

  10. Beverly
    April 13, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    Yes, this was definitely one the kitkats could get interested in! Yours looks delicious & what gorgeous plates!

  11. nana
    April 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    Reading this week’s posts really makes me laugh. The reaction from some of the Doristas
    is hilarious. I love your photos, and your dish looks so delicious. Glad it
    worked out well for you.

  12. April 13, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    I think this would make a delicious sandwich! Great idea for the leftovers.

  13. April 13, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    Oh, Adriana, I love that you liked the sardine rillettes. And, that cat picture is too funny. I actually thought it was Gatamiaux and was wondering how you got that tongue perfectly places. Sardines will do that, however. I went with the Rillettes de Thom and it was delicious. I just couldn’t go the sardine route. Shame on me and good for you. Mary

    • April 14, 2012 at 8:15 am #

      No, that’s a stock photo… If Gatamiaux EVER looked that vicious I would be really scared! 🙂

      This is the usual scenario when it comes to Gatamiaux and “people food”:

      Gatamiaux smells crab, grapefruit and avocado salad

      • April 15, 2012 at 4:08 am #

        Now THAT is a fantastic cat photo! Very subtle.

  14. April 14, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    John said the same thing that they were a saltier and better tasting tuna fish. My daughter also liked them and make sardine rillettes tacos this afternoon. I’m glad that you discovered that you like them. I am looking forward to the salmon and tuna rillettes myself. Great photos!

  15. April 14, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    The cat picture made me laugh! Sometimes I really miss having one of those guys. Glad this recipe was a success for you!

  16. April 14, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Too funny! Glad you enjoyed them, I thought they were OK, but am going to give them another try today with the leftovers for lunch. They are so good for you!

  17. April 14, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    You’re right – “saltier tuna salad” is a good description. Glad you liked them, and that you had willing tasters in your in-laws!

  18. April 15, 2012 at 4:16 am #

    I thought it was hilarious how you searched the internet to find out what the sardines tasted like before you tried them. I should have done that too.

    I’m so surprised by how many people liked this. We are an adventurous group, aren’t we?

  19. April 15, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Love it! 🙂 and how great for your cat too!

  20. April 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Only the dog and I liked these!!! I love the cat and sardines photo you shared…too funny!!! Glad you enjoyed~

  21. April 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Isn’t it wonderful when you end up liking something that you think you won’t? Dorie’s a bit of a mom making us ‘take just one bite’ of the perceived strange or unpalatable….I liked it better that I thought I would, too.


  1. Salmon Rillettes with Cream Cheese and Chives - Great Food 360˚ - July 8, 2014

    […] this traditional French spread made with fatty meats and fish.  I had experimented before with a sardine version as part of the French Fridays with Dorie experience (while here at the beach apartment, […]

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