One of those odd memories recently included beurre de sardine. Yes, sardine butter... It doesn't sound super exciting when you put it like this but it is actually quite delicious. I am not speaking about the lumpy one we had to eat at the school canteen but the one made at home with great care and the nicest canned sardines (I used to live on the Atlantic seaside where there were lots of local cannery factories then).
I guess at the time it was the school and our parents' own sneaky way of making us French kids eat oily fish by blending it into a fine paté style consistency.
However, because my childhood food memories work in crazy ways, I decided I wanted to have sardine butter on crusty rustique baguette. Instead of making it a super smooth very buttery type of paté, I went for a bit more texture and prepared some sardine rillettes instead.
The idea about rillettes versus sardine butter in this case is you just need to reduce the amount of softened butter (like I did in the recipe below - you can double the amount mentioned for sardine butter) and not puree the mixture.
I could not resist adding lemon zest and parsley into the mix for some extra flavour.
Those sardine rillettes are really delicious on toasted bread and are perfect to serve at a dinner party. You could even spread them into sandwiches for a picnic. And I am pretty sure the recipe can be made with some other types of canned oily fish.
Are you familiar with sardine butter or rillettes? What is your favourite way to eat canned sardines?
2 cans sardines (drained of water or oil)
80g unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
freshly ground black pepper
There are two ways you could make these sardine rillettes: using a food processor or good old elbow grease by mashing the ingredients with a fork.
1. Start with mixing the drained sardines with the grated lemon zest in the food processor (or mashing them with a fork in a bowl).
2. Add the softened butter and chopped parsley and mix (or mash with the fork) until all is blended nicely (but not pureed*, try to keep some texture). Season with pepper (and salt if you wish but I find the sardines are savoury enough on their own). Transfer the sardine rillettes in a small bowl, cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes/1 hour before serving.
Serve it with slices of fresh rustique baguette (even better toasted). It is better eaten on the day or up to one day after making it.
Note: * you could increase the amount of softened butter and puree the mixture to a fine consistency to make it a sardine butter.