The beauty of rillettes, as with most charcuterie, is that they can be made ahead and refrigerated until needed. Rillettes are made from cured and confit meat, usually pork, that's shredded and set in its own fat. Take the time to shred the meat finely, but don't overdo it - it's nice to have some texture. Take the rillettes out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before serving so they're easy to spread on toasted baguette. Apple slices and pickles make good accompaniments. Start this recipe two days ahead to cure and set the pork.
- 800 gm piece skinless, boneless pork belly
- 250 gm fine sea salt
- 3-4 fresh bay leaves
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 400 gm pork back-fat, diced (see note)
- 3 garlic cloves, bruised
- 1Coat pork with salt in a non-reactive container that holds it snugly, add herbs, cover and refrigerate to cure (4-6 hours).
- 2Heat back-fat in a saucepan over low-medium heat with 2 tbsp water and add more water as it evaporates until fat renders (about 1 hour). You should have about 250ml melted lard.
- 3Preheat oven to 150C. Rinse pork under cold running water to remove excess brine and pat dry with paper towels. Reserve herbs and garlic. Cut pork into 6cm cubes and place in a roasting pan that fits it snugly, pour rendered fat over, scatter with reserved herbs and garlic, then roast, turning occasionally, until meat is very tender and pulls apart easily (3½-3¾ hours).
- 4Remove pork from fat and set aside on a tray to cool briefly. Strain fat through a fine sieve and set aside. Shred pork using two forks, pulling meat apart along the grain, then divide among 4-6 individual ¾-cup jars or ramekins, pressing on pork to pack lightly. Pour fat over each jar to cover pork, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to set (about 4 hours). Serve with fresh or toasted sliced baguette. Rillettes will keep sealed for up to a month.
Note Pork back-fat will need to be ordered ahead from the butcher.
Drink Suggestion: Off-dry (demi-sec) chenin blanc. Drink suggestion by Max Allen