Mackerel rillettes are really easy to make and a lot less calorific than you would expect. Served with traditional Irish soda bread, they make an elegant starter for a decadent summer party or a swanky aperitif.
Rillettes of mackerel on toasted Irish Soda bread – by Michel Roux Jr
Serves 6 as an aperitif or a starter
To prepare the rillettes:
- 1kg (or 6 fillets) of deboned mackerel
- 1 bunch of chopped chives
- ½ bunch of chopped flat parsley
- 1 lemon (for the juice and zest)
- 200g crème fraiche
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- A drizzle of olive oil
To prepare the Escabeche:
- 1 spring onion
- 1 carrot
- 400ml white wine
- 50ml white wine vinegar
- 50ml water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp crushed black peppercorn
To prepare the Irish Soda bread:
- 200g wholemeal flour
- 200g plain white flour
- 50g porridge oats
- 1 tsp bicarbonate
- 1 tsp Sea salt
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tsp honey
- 350ml buttermilk
- Preheat your oven to 200 C – (Can be made beforehand)
- Mix together both flours, oats, bicarbonate, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and honey. Incorporate the liquid mix into the dry one using your hands to form a soft dough.
- This bread doesn’t need proofing; place directly into a greased loaf tin and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.
To prepare the Escabeche:
- Halve the fillets of mackerel lengthwise and place them flesh side down into a shallow dish.
- Peel and dice the spring onion and carrot into a brunoise (2mm cubes). Then place all of the ingredients, including the diced veggies into a pot and bring to the boil.
- After 2 minutes of boiling, pour the liquid over the filets of mackerel and seal the shallow dish with cling film. Leave the fish to cook and marinate until the liquid has completely cooled down. Separate the fillets from the liquid (without discarding) and remove the skin of the fish.
- Using a fork combine the mackerel flesh with olive oil, crème fraiche, lemon juice and mustard. If this mixture is too compact, add some of the escabeche liquid until you achieve the perfect rillettes texture. Finally, season to taste with salt, pepper, chopped herbs, the crunchy diced veggies and lemon zest.
- Slice thick wedges of Irish soda bread and place under the grill until beautifully toasted. Then spread the mackerel rillettes to your heart’s content.
Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – A bright, citrusy wine from the maker of “Two Rivers” wines. This wine is pleasingly dry and medium bodied, with a wonderful gooseberry finish and a touch of lychee and passionfruit on the palate. Its gently refreshing nature makes this wine perfect to cut through rich, smoky fish such as mackerel.
Hamilton Russel’s 2015 Chardonnay – A composed nose with great minerality, length and complexity typical of Hamilton Russell Vineyards. This wine has great volume in the mouth, with touches of almond saturated with citrus and pear fruits. Gaining intensity with aeration, this wine is suitably complex to break through the creaminess of the rillettes.
Champagne Taittinger 2008 – A deliciously creamy, rich 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinor Noir with an intense palate. Flinty notes at first, which gives way to an intense, plummy fruitiness. This wine has the perfect depth and complexity to accompany the mackerel.
Why these wines?
I recently discovered an affordable and youthful white wine from New Zealand; Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc 2016, which is perfect to accompany the rich taste of the rillettes. It’s crisp, fresh, with strong gooseberry notes that delivers just the right amount of acidity.
Oily fish such as mackerel calls for a robust drink with real depth. Hamilton Russel’s 2015 Chardonnay from South Africa is aged and fermented in barrels; which adds length and intensity to this refreshing white wine.
To deliver a truly memorable aperitif, I suggest you go all out with a Taittinger 2008. This famous family-run Champagne house produces elegant and complex bubbles. This particular blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is worth every penny.
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