Be warned, Classic French Pork Rillettes are not a pâté, as you will find you find to your peril should you ever use the term in France. Rillettes are long, slow-cooked meats, usually cooked in their own fat, and a few herbs and seasoning. What is created by the long slow cooking is akin to pulled pork with, however, a softer flavour. They are, quite simply, delicious.
Spread rillettes on toasted baguette, sprinkle lightly with freshly cracked black pepper and salt for a quick, easy appetizer. For a bold flavor or gourmet appetizer spread the toasts with fig jam; the sweet jam and pork work so well together.
- 1 1/2 pounds lean pork, cut into 1" cubes
- 3/4 pound pork fatback
- 1/2 pound duck legs, kept whole
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 /¼ teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 dried bay leaf
Preheat an oven to 325F.
In a large ovenproof baking dish, mix all the ingredients.
Tightly cover the dish with foil or a well-fitting lid, and cook in the center of the oven it for 3 hours, until the meat is falling apart. It is imperative to keep checking the dish to make sure the meat is not drying out as it cooks and add more water if needed. If the meat dries out it will be not shred.
Once cooked, remove the dish from the heat, leave the foil or lid in place and allow the meat to cool in the dish for 30-45 minutes until it is just warm.
Remove the lid and discard the bay leaf and duck bones and any little pieces of meat which may have dried too far. Shred and stir the meat and fat with a large fork until it resembles a chunky, creamy spread, if correctly cooked this will be very easy to do.
Place the rillettes in a beautiful serving pot, level with the back of a spoon and pour any remaining fat in the cooking dish over the surface which helps to keep the rillettes moist.
Chill the pâté for at least 24 hours before serving. The pâté will keep for several days untouched, once you have started eating use within 72 hours.
Alternatives to a Classic French Pork Rillettes
Classic Pork Rillettes from the French City of Tours are now protected under EU law's PDO status and as such must be made with pork to a particular recipe.
Other variations of Rillettes exist throughout France including the hugely popular Duck and Goose Rillettes from the South-West and other where they produce Duck or Goose Liver pâté as Rillettes are an excellent way to use the remaining meat after the liver, cuisses (legs) and magret (breast) are removed.