Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Pork Rillette

No pictures of this particular bowlful of French and rustic heaven.

Edit: Pic uploaded......

But a recipe nonetheless.

A rillette - often made with pork, but also with rabbit, duck or sometimes salmon, is a classic French dish. Poor mans pate, using cheap cuts of meat - for the pork. And a damned fine way to use them. Terrify your local butcher by asking for arcane cuts of pig to make this bugger with.

Anthony Bourdain eulogises damned convincingly over Pork Rillette in his Les Halles cookbook. While ripping the piss out of everyone who isn't Anthony Bourdain. And he was right about the Rillette.

Theres also a recipe in The Cook and the Gardener, and between the two of them, and some disorganised necessity, I knocked up a creditable first effort.

Pork will kill me. I may well die happily.

Recipe: I used about a kilo of pork belly, again from Nolan's of Rathmines, and about 600g of diced pork shoulder - though ham hocks would have been a better choice here. Good for gelatin. Necessity, on my, and my butchers parts.

Cut the rind off the belly. In a Dutch oven, or oven proof pot, combine the pork with rosemary (I used 3 large sprigs), crushed cloves of garlic, and bay leaves and season generously with salt, black pepper and nutmeg - most recipes call for a bouquet garni, not just rosemary, or thyme and parsley instead. But hell. Heres to living dangerously, eh?

Cover with a cup full of water, and bring to a low simmer on the stove. Not quite bubbling. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to gas mark 2. Cover, and place in the heated oven. Read a book. Watch TV. Call you friends. Cooking times vary from 2 to 6 hours. Bake bread to go with your rillette. I cooked by eye, as it were, taking the pot out of the oven every 40 minutes or so, stirring to make sure it didn't stick, and eventually, forking the thicker parts of meat apart to allow it to cook a little more quickly.

The fat should largely melt to a clear liquid, and the pork cook until meltingly soft - it should fall apart in the pot when gently forked. When that happens, drain and reserve the liquid. Discard the herbs, and allow the pork to cool enough to handle. Best to keep it a little warm though. With your hands, or two forks, shred the meat into, depending on your taste, pistachio sized piece, or small threads of pork. Or less even. Taste the pork, and add herbs, salt, pepper - whatever you used originally - to taste. Place in a terrine dish (no grease or bacon required. Any more pork might actually kill you) or a regular bowl, or container, and compress. For ten minutes, or two hours. Again, your preference is, I think, prime, though I only loosely compressed it, and the dish soaked up huge amounts of fat.

Finally, pour over some of the reserved fat to form a thin layer of fat on top of the crock, terrine dish, bowl.....and leave covered, in the fridge, for three days. It can keep for ten days without the fat covering, and longer with.

Eat, with pickled cornichons, or black olives, on bread. To serve, take what you want from the terrine. Allow to come to room temperature, and serve.

Eating it is the most loved pig has ever made me feel.


The Humble Housewife said...

I am salivating here! That sounds incredible... I too fear I may die from excessive consumption of pork products... but as you say... at least enjoy it! I am going to try this sometime soon... have only tried store bought varieties... bet homemade is so much better! Thanks for the recipe!

Abulafia said...

Should've mentioned that I took wound up cutting the pork in the pot to lower the cooking times - sone recipes call for cutting the pork into pieces, or strips before cooking.