The secret behind perfect homemade pork rillettes is patience and water, making the slow cooked tender and tasty without the use of excessive fat.
Rillettes con carne di maiale
The Italians tend to turn all their minced meat into sausages, so we have to turn to France for a proper paté. And no Christmas is complete without a French ‘pig jam’ or homemade rillettes as a stand in for the gelatinous Danish ‘sylte’, but so far my efforts have not been rewarded. All the rillettes recipes, I could find, prescribed pork cooked in fat in the oven, resulting in some dry, hard lumps that needed a food processor to become edible. The texture and taste was nowhere near the rich, tongue-melting meat shreds you can buy in any French supermarket.
This year, however, I managed to break the code. The secret behind perfect rillettes is patience and water. The cubed pork should be left to cook over low heat with herbs and spices for no less than 6 hours. And 7 dl water should be added for each kilo meat. Trust me, it’s that simple. After six hours the water and meat will have merged into a kind mash, herbs are removed, and remaining lumps can easily be shredded with two forks. The paste is left to cool for a couple of days in a lidded crockery bowl, and then a really good rillettes is ready to serve on toast with cornichons and beets or other pickles to cut through the fat.
1 kg top loin or shoulder blade of pork with fat and skin.
7 dl water
Fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, 2 bayleaves, and 4 cloves
Cut the meat into cubes. Put the cubes in a pot, cover with water, and bring it to the boil.
Turn down the heat to a low temperature and put a lid on the pot.
Place cleaned herbs and spices in a gaze or muslin bag (I use a disposable tea strainer), and leave the bag to cook with the pork.
Check the concoction every hour or so, to make sure it does not burn, and add more water if necessary.
After approximately 6 hours the water has evaporated, and skin and fat has melted and is no longer discernible. Remove and discard the herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste. And shred the remaining meat lumps with two forks.
Press the shredded meat into a crockery bowl, pour over juices, and leave the rillettes for a day or two in the fridge.
If you want to preserve rillettes for up to a month in the fridge, it should be sealed with melted pork fat.
If you like homemade pork rillettes, you might also like: