Heart Of The House

Rillettes – Simple, Rustic and Fattilicious!

Warning:  Don’t read this on an empty stomach,  may make you very hungry!

Rillettes are traditional French delicacy which were originally made with pork.  However, you can make rillettes from duck, goose,  chicken, rabbit and even fish.  I made mine mostly with pork and duck.  Made with good quality meat and fats, they are delicious and flavoursome.  A great way to enjoy this meaty fattilicious spread is to eat on toasty baguette.   Whichever meat you use,  the method is basically the same, sloooow and gentle cooking

For change in style and cut of pork, I used pork cheeks and gave the rillettes a Spanish twist. The pork cheeks were acquired from Fernleigh Organic farm during a recent trip to Daylesford, Victoria.  The pork from their farm comes from the Wessex Saddleback pigs (a rare breed).  Pork cheeks are not easy to find.  I was glad that Fiona Chambers suggested I buy pork cheeks in place of pork belly which was not available on the day I was there.  I had the opportunity to learn about another cut of pork which I have not tried before although I did cook 1/2 a pig’s head, cheek and all and made a head cheese once.  Well that is another story which I may share with you later.

I have since learnt that in Italy this cut of pork is used to make Guanciale.

Spanish-Style Pork Rillettes (Manteca Colorada)
(Idea for this recipe came from one of my favourite book: “Fat – An appreciation of the misunderstood ingredient,  with recipes”).

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork cheeks (or pork belly)
  • 125 ml dry sherry
  • 4 cloves garlic, peel and halve
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tbs coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds crushed
  • 1 tsp hot pimenton (smoked paprika)
  • 1 tsp mild paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper and fine sea salt

Method

  1. Place the pork cheeks in a large bowl and add the sherry, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, coarse salt, and fennel seeds.
  2. Sprinkle both types of paprika over the pork and season generously with pepper.
  3. Stir to combine and marinate the pork for 6 to 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 120 C.
  5. Transfer the pork with all the seasonings and the sherry to a heavy pan or Dutch oven, cover, and cook in the oven, stirring occasionally, until the pork is so tender that it falls apart, about 4 hours.
  6. Remove the pork from the oven and tip the pork with all the fat, spices and juices into a large fine-mesh sieve suspended over a bowl.
  7. Empty the contents of the sieve onto a large platter and pour the liquid from the bowl into a measuring cup.   Set aside the liquid and the let the meat mixture cool slightly.
  8. Remove the skin and set aside.  Using your fingers, pull the meat and fat apart, discarding the thyme sprigs and bay leaves as you go.  Discard any pieces of membrane or sinew that don’t shred.
  9. Return the shredded mixture to the bowl.
  10. The cooking liquid will have separated into fat and juices.  Carefully pour off the fat and set aside.
  11. Add about 125 ml of the juices to the shredded mixture so that it is very moist.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary.
  12. Pack the mixture into ceramic dishes or a terrine, leaving a 6 mm gap at the top of each dish.
  13. Place the dishes in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up.
  14. Once surface is firm, seal the dishes with a layer of liquid fat and refrigerate the rillettes for 2 to 3 days to allow the flavour to meld.
  15. Sealed with fat, the rillettes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
  16. Once seal is broken, eat the rillettes within a week.

Note:  Crisp the skin in a hot oven and used on salad or as a pork crackling snack

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