I don’t think I’ve been shy about my love of the pig. I honestly think the best thing you can give a gal involves some kind of pork fat and since February is the month of the Valentine, I think it’s also the time for indulging a little. Forget the chocolate covered strawberries. I say give the gift of pork cooked in a hella lot of fat that can be spread on crackers or toast.
I know! I’m excited, too.
I first heard of rillettes from Mrs. Wheelbarrow and was intrigued and totally whipped some together from the pork belly trim bits from when I last made bacon and it was delicious. Of course, I modified the recipe because I cannot leave anything alone. My recipe is actually a hodge podge of several different recipes.
Rillettes are pretty simple and have very little active time. The most work you’ll have to do is beating the heck out of the pork with the fat to get a pleasing consistency. Adding a thin layer of lard over the top of the finished product means it will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks at least. So feel free to make extra and stash it away for a while.
I think the key is to have a good ratio of meat to fat. I try to do an even split, but if you are in doubt, add more fat. You are going to strain it later and add back in what you want anyway, so better to have too much than too little.
RECIPE: “Feel the Love” Pork Rillettes
- 3 pounds of pork shoulder cut into cubes.
- Pork fat (fatback or trimmings you’ve saved)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salty fatback)
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp clove (I like clove but it can be overpowering)
- Lard for capping
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
- Combine all ingredients except the white wine and pork fat in a large bowl. Eyeball the fat to meat ratio. If it looks like you have more meat than fat, add in some fat cut into cubes. Toss to coat everything well with the spices.
- Put your meat mixture in a dutch over and pour in the white wine. Cover.
- Pop everything into your oven for about three hours, stirring occasionally. If your mixture looks to be drying out or sticking, add some water.
- When everything looks cooked and the pork is falling apart, take the pot out of the oven and let sit out for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Strain the mixture over a big bowl, reserving all of the juices and liquid fat. Discard the bay leaf. Pour the liquid into a heat proof measuring cup and let the fat rise to the top. It should be mostly fat at this point, but just in case.
- Transfer the pork to cutting board and shred with two forks then transfer into the bowl the juices were in.
- Add some of the fat into the pork and stir vigorously. You are looking to coat the pork in fatty goodness and create a creamy texture.If it feels to dry to you, add more fat. Keep adding fat and mixing until you achieve the mouth feel you find pleasant. Adjust salt and pepper as you go, remembering that this will be served cold or room temperature so they will taste less salty and the spices will be less aggressive.
- Pack into mason jars. Melt the lard and pour a thin layer over the top of the pork to “cap” it.
Let your rillette hang out in the fridge for a day or two to mellow. Serve with tasty cheese, cornichons and some toast or crackers. Remember to remove the fat cap first.