You can never put too much pork in your mouth as far as I’m concerned. (Lewis Black)
Do you ever wonder which genes you got from your Mum, and which you got from your Dad? Physically, it’s a toss-up whether I am more a product of one over the other. I resemble both my parents. But, my taste buds – they are ALL my Dad’s. He’s coming to visit in a couple of weeks (with my Mum). And, as so often happens before he crosses the ditch, I start thinking of foods that he might particularly enjoy…
This week, I was inspired by my recent ox tongue experiment. It was so easy, not to mention budget-friendly, that I thought I should continue to expand my culinary horizons. And, while my Dad was impressed with my ox tongue exploits, this week’s recipe may hold slightly wider appeal – none of that ‘ick-factor’ sometimes associated with cooking tongue!
In my recent search for suitable tongue recipes, I came across Stephanie Alexander’s recipe for pork rillettes. And, the seed was firmly planted. I love rillettes. And, frankly, the recipe looked so easy.
Actually, too easy. So, I started researching…
What are rillettes?
Rillettes are potted jars of meat confit, slow cooked in fat, and then shredded and packed in more fat. Rustic, unctuous and SERIOUSLY scrummy. Best of all, because of the richness of rillettes, a little goes a long way. It’s a very budget-friendly option.
The process was originally used before refrigeration to keep meat from spoiling. The fat, while providing an incredible flavour, sealed the meat in the pot keeping it fresh and delicious for weeks longer than would have been possible otherwise.
Often made with pork, duck or goose, or even salmon, the savoury quality of rillettes comes from using traditionally fatty meats and a generous quantity of salt. Nigel Slater says it keeps for weeks if covered with a layer of fat. So, it must be true!
If I had to narrow my choice of meats down to one for the rest of my life, I am quite certain that meat would be pork. (James Beard)
Rillettes have a very high fat content, so it is even more critical that you know the quality of the produce before you buy. You want to know your animal has been pasture-raised and is free of any potential nasties that will settle in the fat. The absolute best pork I have tasted in my life comes from Lauren and Greg at Linga Longa Farm. They take great care of their happy pigs – and, it is SO noticeable in the taste of their pork.
I’m not on a commission from Linga Longa (yet!), but I did pick up a kilo-and-a-half of pork belly from their stand at Eveleigh Market last week, especially to give my inaugural rillettes-making experiment a go.
I decided to keep things very simple, for my first attempt. And, because I am limited in the spices I can currently eat (thanks to the Autoimmune Protocol) that means really simple…
I gotta tell you – this ‘rillettes a la TSL’ experiment exceeded all expectations. Seriously good. These babies are about to become a staple here at Casa TSL. And, for those of you on the AIP who need a wee pick me up every now and then, may I suggest a spoonful of homemade rillettes. YUM! – Sure to satisfy!
You will need to start this recipe the day before
1.5 kilos best quality happy pork belly, skinned and boned
Himalayan sea salt
1 x large sprig thyme
1 x bay leaf
2 x cloves garlic
freshly ground black pepper (optional, leave out if on the autoimmune protocol)
1/4 x cup water
1/4 cup verjuice
1. Cut your pork belly into 2 cm pieces and place into a bowl. Massage in 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt. cover with cling film and pop in the fridge overnight.
2. Heat your oven to 150°C/300°F.
3. Pop your meat into a cast-iron casserole (I used my le Creuset). It is best if it is a snug fit.Add your herbs. Push the garlic cloves down into the centre. Grind on fresh pepper (if using). Pour over water and verjuice. Cover and cook for 3 1/2 – 4 hours, until the pork is swimming in its own fatty juices.
4. Strain through a fine sieve over a bowl (and making sure to reserve the fat). Discard the thyme and bay leaf.
5. Using two forks, shred the meat into a bowl and check for seasoning. Spoon meat into sterilised pots or jars. Ensure you press the meat down well so there are no air pockets. Strain leftover fat over the meat-filled jars.
6. Refrigerate until required.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
E N J O Y !
In extravagant moments I stuff baked potatoes with pork or duck rillettes. Scoop out the cooked potato, mash with the rillettes and pile back into the potato skin and bake until the top crisps. (Nigel Slater)
This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable.