CLASSIC PORK RILLETTES
I don’t know about you but I seriously crave pork rillettes. Those perfectly porky heaps of meaty goodness spread thickly on a slice of toasted bread. They are the world’s most perfect snack foods and can tame a growling stomach in a single bite. Rillettes are equally good at home served with a flute of Champagne before a simple lunch as they are heartily packed onto a warm baguette for a quick lunch on the run. The best news is they can be easily made by any cook in any home kitchen in three easy steps.
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By definition, pork rillette is made using a preservation method similar to making duck confit. The pork is seasoned, then slow-cooked submerged in fat and cooked at a grandmotherly pace for several hours. Afterward, the pork is shredded and packed into sterile containers, covered in a thin veneer of fat and stored. While rillettes are most commonly made with pork, they can also be made with other meats such as goose, duck, chicken, game birds, rabbits and sometimes even with fish such as anchovies, tuna, or salmon.
PORK RILLETTES IN THREE EASY STEPS
Because of the lengthy cook time, Lisa and I like to make a big batch of rillettes every winter and freeze them in small jars ready to enjoy all throughout the year. You can pull the jars out the day before, or even up to a few hours ahead of time for a quick delicious snack that will surely impress your friends. Rillettes are best served at room temperature spread thickly on toasted bread. Don’t forget to eat with cornichon and a smear of Dijon mustard. Rillettes also make amazing salads and even quiches.
- Step 1: Combine all ingredients.
- Step 2: Slow cook for several hours.
- Step 3: Shred meat and chill.
Pork and Duck Rillettes
- 1.5 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound pork belly cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 duck legs
- 2 cups white wine
- 5 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 3 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 sprig thyme
- 2 cups melted pork fat (lard, duck fat)
- Preheat the oven to 250°F.
- In a large Dutch oven over high heat, combine the pork shoulder, pork belly, duck legs, wine, salt, nutmeg, star anise, cinnamon stick, rosemary, thyme, and fat.
- Bring to a boil, cover and braise in the oven for about six hours, or until the meat completely falls apart at the slightest touch.
- Remove from the oven. Use a Chinese wire mesh strainer to lift out all the solid pieces, reserving the liquid. Discard the star anise, cinnamon stick, and thyme. Shred the pork either by hand or put it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pack into clean jars and top with a thin veneer of liquid fat. Cover and refrigerate for a few days before digging in or freeze and keep until you are ready to eat.
3 GREAT WAYS TO SERVE RILLETTES
In my house, we serve rillettes in a number of different ways. By far the most common is a clear glass jar with a latching lid crammed full of porky rillettes arranged on a rustic wooden cutting board with cornichon, 24-hour pickled onions, Dijon mustard, and toasted baguette. It is a small bite that makes luncheons more interactive and fun. Watch your guests gather around the jar with glasses of wine in hand and a belly full of laughter and joy.
Lately, we have been enjoying heartier main course salads. I like to toss whatever bitter greens you can find at the farmers market or in your local greengrocers. For my salad in the picture, I used a combination of pink radicchio and red dandelion tossed in a simple vinaigrette with sliced hard-boiled eggs, garnished with toasted baguettes smeared heavily with rillettes.
In Jane Grigson cult classic ‘Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery’ she mentions a regional quiche called Quiche Tourangelle. Find a basic quiche recipe online and instead of using ham and cheese, or whatever they use as the filling simply put a layer of rillettes down.
24-Hour Pickled Sweet Vidalia Onions
A quick and easy pickle that is great on tacos, burgers, charcuterie, and everything else
- 1 Vidalia sweet onion peeled
- 1 slice of raw beet
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- Slice Vidalia onion thinly and stuff into a pint-sized glass jar.
- Push in a slice of raw beet.
- Bring to a boil salt, sugar, water, and vinegar, then pour over onions, screw-top on and let sit for one day.