In France, rillettes (pronounced ree-yehts), a meaty mousse smeared across a toasty baguette, anchors cafe menus. Only recently, though, have American menus begun to adopt the toothsome treat. Chefs obsessed with making their own charcuterie have taken to slow-poaching duck, pork, rabbit, or salmon in oil; they then mix the tender meat with more fat or spices and press it into a small pot. Traditionally, the spread is sealed with animal fat or butter, and eventually served with bread and a medley of preserves and pickles. In Denver, though, only some chefs follow tradition.
Chef and co-owner Sean Kelly dispenses with the fancy French names at his new Highland eatery, where you'll find his salmon rillettes dubbed "pâté." But the combination of poached and smoked salmon, sour cream, butter, and fines herbes follows all the rules of the French favorite. The creamy blend is even sealed with butter and served with crostini. 3200 Tejon St., 303-927-6334, www.lohisteakbar.com
Each Tuesday, chef-owner Patrick DuPays devotes his mornings to making duck or pork rillettes. He flavors them with 12 herbs and 12 spices, so the hearty spreads hold their own against the pâté, caramelized shallots, and cornichons that also fill Z Cuisine's beloved charcuterie plate. 2239 and 2245 W. 30th Ave., 303-477-1111, www.zcuisineonline.com
When this Boulder bistro committed itself to only buying whole animals, it undertook a huge challenge: What to do with the unconventional cuts of meat? Make rillettes. Chef Eric Skokan has a particular affinity for his rabbit version, which is seasoned with cinnamon, orange, cardamom, and peppercorn. 1964 13th St., Boulder, 303-444-5500, www.blackcatboulder.com
Beatrice & Woodsley
Taking liberties with its rillettes, this Broadway spot serves the traditional braised veal cheek spread in an unconventional manner: encased in polenta like a dumpling. The finishing touches—peppery arugula, charred tomato relish, and herbed olive oil—balance the Old World meets New World flavors. 38 S. Broadway, 303-777-3505, www.beatriceandwoodsley.com