Rillettes de Thon


Following on from my last post (Poulet aux Herbes), I mentioned that I made my step daughter’s favourite, ‘rillettes de thon’ to have with the aperitif for the meal that there was a mix up on the days, and in fact,  she wasn’t in fact coming to lunch for another week!

A word on ‘the aperitif’. Before moving here, I thought an aperitif was something to have on special occasions, or when you had guests, or at Sunday lunch, but it is much more an integral part of a meal, rather than a superfluous addition.

This point was driven home when my partner was checking with me what we had ready for his expected daughter and her boyfriend before he set off to the market to buy the compulsory bread…..’Do we have enough cheese?’ (cheese is also an essential part of any meal) ‘What do with have as dessert’ (perish the thought of serving a meal without a dessert!) ‘What do we have for the aperitif?’

The aperitif is in some respects the most important part of a meal. It is not merely a rushed appendage before the real meal begins. This is where everyone – cook included – sits around and has drinks (either alcoholic drinks such as ‘kir’ port or even whisky, or soft drinks such as fruit juices or cola, and of course on special occasions, Champagne or ‘kir royale’)

This is accompanied by anything ranging from simple little savoury biscuits, crisps, nuts, olives, cherry tomatoes and such like, to crudités with various dips, fois gras, saucison, savory cakes ‘verrines’ (little glass dishes filled with various concoctions – more on verrines to follow at a later date) and elaborate little ready prepared apero nibbles, notably from the excellent ‘Picard’

The apero is a chance for everyone to catch up, unwind and talk in an informal gathering, before the serious business of eating begins.

Rillettes de Thon is a sort of creamy paté made from tuna. I was introduced to this (once again) very simple recipe by a French friend, Veronique, and I use it as a stand-by for an impromptu aperitif, or to take on picnics.


I actually served this with little Swedish toasts on this occasion

As ‘pique nique’ season will soon be upon us, there is nothing I like more than packing the wicker basket that we keep in the car and setting off to a village or chateau to eat ‘al fresco’ (as we do not have a garden, the countryside and various parcs and chateaux become my garden in summer!)

France invented ‘le pique nique’ so everywhere is geared up for this with trestle tables and benches, even at the roadside, sometimes in the most unexpected places! In fact as this coming Sunday is my birthday – we are crossing our fingers that the weather will be fine enough to head off with our basket full of goodies – watch this space!


How’s this for the perfect private picnic spot We came upon this idyllic place while driving near the Pyrenees


1 tin of tuna (I use tuna in olive oil, ass this preserves more of the vitamins from the fish and is more tasty!)

1 tablespoon of crème fraiche

1 teaspoon of English mustard (less vinegary and MUCH stronger than French mustard)

2 teaspoons of capers

Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste

A sprinkling (sous poudre) of Cayenne pepper


Drain the tuna of excess oil (or water)

mix together in a basin with the crème faiche and mustard

Add the capers and transfer to a serving dish

Cover with cling film and chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes

Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and serve with warm toast or crusty French bread

That’s all there is to it!


A little impromptu pique nique complete with ‘pastis’ and carrotte rapé (to follow)


Sneaky picture of me preparing a roadside pique nique!


2 thoughts on “Rillettes de Thon

  1. Dale Marie LaBohn says:

    Thank you for providing this recipe and informing about socializing before the meal is served. All sounds wonderful, and I plan to use the recipe soon.

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