As you probably know, Honore de Balzac was known as a famous gourmet and gourmand at the same time, i.e. he was obsessed with delicious food, and he ate those delicatessens in enormous quantities. Sometimes he liked to cook for himself. Pork rillette was one of Balzac’s most famous dishes.
Rillette is a close relative to pate. The difference is that the pate meat (poultry, fish, or even vegetables) is cooked first, then pureed and mixed with fat. In the rillette the meat (poultry, fish) is cooked in the fat (butter, lard, duck fat) and then blended to a desired condition.
As for other ingredients in the rillette, the opinions may differ. Jacques Pepin believes that best way is to make it just with salt and pepper. Other chefs like to add various spices to the pork. This is a matter of taste.
Today I would like to share one of my pork rilette recipes.
- 3 lb fat pork (fatty pork shoulder or 2 lb pork shoulder and 1 lb pork belly)
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 5-10 sprigs thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground fennel
- 1 tsp ground celery seeds (optional)
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg (optional)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- Juice of 1 lemon (optional)
Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C).
Cut the pork into 1 – 1 ½” pieces.
In a Dutch oven put the pork, spices and herbs. Add ½ cup of water, bring to a boil over high heat on the stove. Remove from heat, cover and put into the oven for 2 ½ – 3 hours.
During cooking, once or twice check for the liquids amount. The pork should be cooked in its own juices and fat.
Remove from the oven and cool in the Dutch oven. You can leave it overnight, and reheat the pork next day.
Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
Transfer the pork into a large bowl and mash with a fork to the desired consistency (coarse or fine). Add the lemon juice and salt, if needed.
For a prolonged storage reserve some fat.
Stir in the rest of the fat-pork juice to the pork, and lightly whisk with a fork. Pour the rillette into clean glass jars or ceramic pots and top with a thin layer of fat for an extended storage.
Serve the rillette with pickled cucumbers, cornichons, olives, capers and good bread.
The rillette can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 12 weeks.
Cook with pleasure!