To clarify; ‘pork rillettes’ is traditionally French and resembles a coarse pâté and should be eaten as such. In the US it would probably be referred to as ‘pulled pork’ but the difference is that rillettes is served at room temp and the cooking liquid is used to bind it together, hence the resemblance to pâté.
The most difficult part of making this dish (in my case), was finding the pork belly – If you live in a more populated area than I do, you probably won’t have the same challenge. Neither the local supermarkets nor Whole Foods could oblige, which was a bit irritating as they all sell every type of bacon known to man.
Then a good friend pointed me in the direction of a Mexican butcher in Carbondale (Valley Meats on Hwy 133); they not only had plenty of pork belly but were still open at 9.30PM and were happy to cut to order. Gracias!
Either way, it’s best served with some warm crusty baguette or similar – perhaps with some gherkins/baby dill pickles on the side…or you could even stuff a baked potato with it and top it with some grated Gruyere.
Following my general rule of food prep, this is incredibly easy to make. You’ll need to pull the meat apart with two forks once it’s cool enough to handle but that’s the fun bit.
If you can’t find juniper berries, just increase the number of bay leaves to three. It freezes well.
RILLETTES of PORK with GARLIC, JUNIPER, BAY & THYME
2lbs (1kilo) of boned, skinned fresh pork belly
2 bay leaves
4 juniper berries, slightly crushed
3 large sprigs of fresh thyme
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
1 tablespoon of sea salt
9 fl oz (250ml) of water
Add the bay leaves, juniper berries, thyme and garlic, then pour in the water.
Cover tightly with foil and cook for 3 hours or until the pork is tender.
Remove from the oven and once it’s cool enough to handle, lift the meat out of the pan, retaining the juices. Using two forks pull/shred the pork apart. Pack the shredded meat into a pâté dish or terrine. Strain all the juices over the shredded meat, mix well then press it down firmly and refrigerate until it becomes firm.
And to those of you who cringe at the idea of eating pork fat – you eat bacon don’t you?
Welcome to French Cuisine!