Rillettes (prononced “ree-yett”) are a fancy word for meat spread. They are usually made of pork, duck, goose or chicken, sometimes even fish. The best way to serve rillettes remains toasted bread with some gerkhins.
Rillettes are served at the apéritif. While I’m writing these lines, I realize that I should dedicate a whole article to this French habit. To sum it up, the apéritif (also known as apéro) is a time before lunch or dinner when you’re having a drink with snacks or amuses-bouches: saucisson, cheese board, chips, rillettes toast… During the apéritif, rillettes are definitely a great addition to a charcuterie board.
Even though we moved to the United States, we couldn’t loose the habit of the apéritif. At first glance, we were even glad we found rillettes at the grocery store: Les Trois Petits Cochons, Duck rillettes… $15.99 for 7 oz!!! Can you believe it? Are they made of gold?
Therefore, we considered cooking them on our own. I thought that it would have been very difficult to obtain a satisfying result. I was so wrong! After having a look in my cookbooks, I found the easiest recipe ever. Long – 4 hours – but easy-peasy!
I adapted it a little bit from my cookbook recipe to make it tastier. However, I decided that I would not add lard. The original contains a lot of it, but I prefer to stick with a lighter version. It is less creamy but my conscience is going way better. I am leaving the choice to you folks!
Ingredients for two small rillettes jars
- 1 pounds pork belly boneless and without rind
- 4 oz. lard (optional)
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 clove of garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- Cut the pork belly in 1 inch cubes. Place the lard (optional) and the pork belly cubes into a dutch oven. Brown the meat on each side until golden. Then, pour water in the pan until the meat is covered. Let cook on low heat with no lid for three hours. Check it from time to time to make sure that there is always a bit of water in the dutch oven.
- After three hours, add the minced garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for one more hour, stirring occasionally. Try not to add water during the last hour: rillettes are supposed to cook in their own fat.
- Put the meat in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Mix gently with the flat beater. The meat will turn as if by magic into rillettes after a few seconds. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a potato masher or the back of a fork. Then, pour in the fat and keep mixing until it gets a creamy texture. If you haven’t added lard, pour all the fat in. It will be a bit scary but trust me on this one. Do not hesitate to taste the spread during the process.
- Pour into sterilised jars and let sit until completely cool. Then keep refrigerated.
Tips: Rillettes are perfect to keep in your fridge for an impromptu apéritif. Once a jar is open you can keep it refrigerated for a week. It is the perfect match with a toasted slice of pain de campagne!