Posts Tagged ‘fish’

Mackerel rillettes

15 May 2013


Sometimes food happens without much forethought or planning. I could have pondered it for weeks, in fact I’ve been wanting to make these for years, but when I bought mackerel fillets at the market last week I had no plan; a quick weeknight dinner at best. Rillettes were far from my thoughts, lurking behind the distant corner of a hazy summer memory. But as I contemplated dinner for friends and something that could easily be made ahead, I found myself searching for mackerel rillettes recipes.

So this is adapted from one by Annie Bell, modified to suit what I had on hand. It was delicious.


Recipe adapted from Mackerel Rillettes by Annie Bell

8 small mackerel fillets

2 bay leaves

2 stems fresh garlic (or 3 garlic cloves)

Few sprigs fresh thyme

100 ml dry white wine

100 ml water

1 lemon

3 Tbsps very good olive oil

Fleur de sel or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the mackerel fillets flat at the bottom of a pan, add the bay leaves, garlic, thyme, wine, and water. Bring to a gentle boil, simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat. As soon as the liquid is cool enough, take out the fillets and flake the fish, taking care to remove any remaining bones.

Place the cooking liquid back onto the stove, cook for a few minutes until ireduced to a couple of tablespoons.

In a medium bowl, combine the mackerel gently with the reduced liquid, the juice from 1/2 lemon (the other half for serving), and 3 Tbsps very good olive oil. Season with fleur de sel or sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Transfer to a serving bowl or jar and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to 2 days.

Serve with bread and butter, and a generous squeeze of lemon.


Related posts

Cheat’s potted crab

Baked mackerel with mustard and thyme

Pork rillettes

Baked mackerel with mustard and thyme

26 July 2012

During the first couple of weeks the persistent Breton drizzle rarely abated, the rolling clouds swept from deep coal to lighter greys, with barely a glint of blue. We went on foggy walks through swampy fields, tore out weeds under the rain, wore thick sweaters, spent evenings by the fireplace. There wasn’t much outdoor cooking.

And when it is too wet to grill mackerel on an open fire, the next best thing is to slather the fish with mustard on both sides and bake it in the oven. This is how we always prepared mackerel in the family. Short of outdoor grilling, it is the best.

Fish is pretty easy going and doesn’t need much in terms of preparation; the tricky and single most important thing is the cooking time. It is very easy to overcook and that ruins everything. This is particularly acute with mackerel: well cooked it is succulent, overdone it becomes heartlessly dry.

I usually count one mackerel per person, but here we’ve found very small line-caught mackerel that were barely enough for one, and occasionally I’ve seen mackerel large enough to be shared. When I’m not sure I seek advice from the fishmonger.

One medium mackerel per person, whole but gutted
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme
Olive oil
Hot Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Season the gutted belly cavity of the mackerel with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper; stuff with a sprig of thyme.

Drizzle a little olive oil onto a baking dish large enough to hold all the mackerel.

Slather a thin layer of mustard on both sides of each fish, place into the baking dish and slide into the oven.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes; this depends on the size of the fish, naturally, and larger ones could take a few minutes longer. **As it is absolutely essential not to overcook fish, rather risk having to pop it back into the oven for a minute if it is still raw inside (the flesh would still be slightly translucent).**

Serve immediately, preferably with mashed potatoes.

Trout in a paper package (“en papillote”)

3 June 2011

A trout so fresh* it is practically still winking at you when you cook it /
Courteously seasoned with salt and pepper, lemon and thyme /
Wrapped tightly in a parchment paper package /
Cooked gently, not a minute too long /
With small boiled potatoes tossed in very good butter.


Quantities per trout, one small trout per person

Trout, scaled and gutted

Maldon or other flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 slices untreated lemon

2 sprigs fresh thyme

Parchment paper


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Season the trout cavity with salt and pepper. Place in it two slices of lemon and two sprigs of fresh thyme.

Place the trout at the center of a piece of parchment paper large enough to be wrapped comfortably around the fish, i.e about 8 inches larger than the fish on either side, and about 4 inches longer than the fish at each end. Pull up the sides of the parchment paper around the trout and fold it over itself tightly three times, then fold the ends over under the fish. This should create small airtight packages.

Place in an ovenproof dish and slide into the oven. The cooking time depends on the size of the trout, but it will be fast, probably about 12 to 15 minutes. The best measure is to open one package and check the trout – sooner rather than later.

*Available on Wednesdays at Union Square Greenmarket in New York, from Beaverkill Trout Hatchery, a little stall close to 16th Street


Baby food | Zucchini and flounder

20 September 2010

By accident the other day I made unexpectedly good food for my 6-month-old daughter. I was preparing dinner for my two older sons, a fairly common summer menu of zucchini and fish – flounder in this case. The ingredients seemed appropriate for a young new eater, so I just blended them for her. It became something quite new and incredibly good, so much so in fact that I plan to serve it as a mousse appetizer for an (adult) dinner very soon.


The portions are adapted to make 4 or 5 jars that can be frozen for a few weeks

1/2 medium onion

Olive oil

2 medium zucchini

3 in (8 cm)-slice flounder fillet


Preheat oven to 375°F (200°C)

Thinly slice and gently brown the onion in a little olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the sliced zucchini. Cover and let steam, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is soft, about 10 minutes.

Bake the flounder in a small oven dish, drizzled with a little olive oil, for about 7 minutes.

Blend the zucchini and flounder in a food processor to the consistency of a soft mousse. Serve immediately or freeze for a few weeks.

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