This simple, prepare-ahead dish makes an excellent sophisticated starter or lunch time treat. It’s pretty inexpensive to make, with the biggest cost being the belly pork – which is generally less than £4 for about half a kilo.
Rillettes are basically succulent bits of shredded meat that have been cooked in fat. As with my duck confit recipe, I don’t add additional fat as I don’t feel there’s a need in order to get a delicious result.
Rillettes are generally served in a pot and eaten like pate. Personally I’m not a pate eater (Offal is one of the few things that I won’t touch), so this makes a great alternative.
This is great served with a bit of homemade melba toast, I’ll show you how at the bottom of this post.
Pork Rillettes – makes 2 small pots (each pot serving 4 people):
- 1 portion of pork belly (not rolled and with the rind on) weighing between 500g and 800g
- 1tsp salt
- 300ml white wine
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ tsp dried thyme (or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme)
- 10 black peppercorns
- Cold water to top up
- Preheat your oven to 160c. Rub 1tsp salt into the skin of the pork belly (a bit of this will go into the liquid during cooking, and it means you can also use the skin to make pork crackling later if you wish) and place into an oven proof pan that fits the pork with just a bit of room to spare.
- Pour the wine into the pan around the sides of the pork, being careful not to pour directly onto the pork as this will wash the salt off. Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns into the liquid, then top up with water until it comes almost to the top of the pork. Gently bring to the boil, then place a lid on the pan and put the pan in the preheated oven. Leave to cook for 3 hours, checking halfway through the cooking time to top up with water if required (I generally add in about 500ml of water at this point)
- Once cooked, take out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. Then put the pork belly onto a chopping board and shred the meat using two forks. Discard any remaining fat that is left on the meat.
- Pack the shredded meat into 2 small or one larger bowl and pour over the cooking liquid (will consist of rendered fat and stock) so that it just covers the meat. Leave to cool then refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving with some melba toast.
***Tip 1 – The pork rillettes will keep in the fridge, covered in a bit of clingfilm for a few days. It will keep a few weeks longer if you add goose fat at the beginning of cooking and then cover the shredded meat in just the fat (rather than the fat and stock) once cooked.
***Tip 2 – Any leftover stock can be made into a tasty gravy for later by heating and stirring in a tsp of cornflour that has been mixed in a little water.
***Tip 3 – Make melba toast by toasting a piece of bread (normal or gluten free bread) on both sides, then whilst it’s still warm, place on a chopping board, trim off the crusts and carefully slice through the toast so you’re left with two very thin pieces. Slice each piece into 4 triangles and toast the untoasted side. It burns quickly when it’s this thin, so keep a close eye on it. This melba toast can be wrapped in foil once cooled and will remain crisp for a couple of days.