Pork, salt, pepper, a splash of water and a little time on your hands. Yup, that's all you need to make this traditional French charcuterie dish: Rillettes.
If you don't know what Rillettes is, it is pretty much a pate made out of confit pulled pork. How amazing does that sound??
And let me tell you, as a French national, I can vouch for this recipe: it tastes exactly like the stuff you pay big money for at the supermarket or your butcher's :)
INGREDIENTS (this batch gave me two tureen-fulls and a little extra I put in a 1/4pint mason jar):
- about 1.5 lbs pork belly (remove rind, but keep as much fat as you can)
- about 1.5 lbs pork shoulder
- 0.5oz salt (15g)
- pepper, a sprig of fresh thyme
- Trim and dice the fat of the pork belly, and dice the shoulder and belly meats into large 1 1/2" cubes
Note: Since this recipe does not use extra lard, it is important to use at least one piece of meat that does contain a fair amount of fat. That's why pork belly is a piece of choice when making Rillettes.
- Heat a large deep pot and render the diced belly fat on medium-low heat (you don't want to uber-crisp it, just render enough fat to brown the diced meat later)
- Once the fat is rendered, add the shoulder and belly and brown on all sides. Add the sprig of thyme, and cook on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes or until the juices start releasing from the meat
- Add a little water so that the meat is just covered, add the salt and some pepper to taste
- Cover with a lid, lower the heat to very low, and let simmer for at least three hours or until the meat falls apart
Note: make sure to stir often so that the meat does not stick to the bottom
- when the meat is ready, it will fall apart. The juices will be reduced and the flavors out-of-this-world concentrated. Transfer the cooked meat and juices into a bowl, remove the thyme sprig and let cool for a few minutes
- with two forks, separate the meat (just like you would pulled pork)
- transfer the meat into a Terrine, and press down so the liquid almost covers the meat
- refrigerate for at least 4 hours before eating and serve on a piece of crunchy rustic bread, with cornichons and a glass of red wine.
- Take that first blissful bite and you'll realize that with very little effort you've managed to land in Heaven otherwise known as French Apero!