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Easy Duck Rillettes

Duck Rillette /Country Pate

This simple recipe will give you 6-8 impressive pots of duck ‘spread’ that keep for up to 3 months in the fridge. The technique was originally created to preserve cuts of slow-cooked meat (in fat) so they would not spoil. It will take a small amount of work over a couple of days but the rewards are well worth it. The perfect way to entertain, which also makes a great housewarming gift

Prep time – 10 mins (plus 1 day in the fridge)
Cooking time - 2 hours
Finishing – 45 mins

Cooking Needs

6 Roast Duck Legs
2 star anise, crushed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 juniper berries, crushed
4 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
½ cup cognac/brandy/port
15gram cooking salt

1 litre Duck fat, rendered

Packing Needs

6-8 small fresh bay leaves
6-8 Sterilised Jam Jars 300ml with lid



Prep Duck Legs

Open pack of duck legs and use your hands to scrape off gelatine and fat form each leg. Reserve both jelly and fat in a separate very small pot. Cut duck legs so thigh and leg are separated. Put all the duck into a ceramic or glass dish (not metal if possible). Put all herbs, spices, Alcohol and salt on the duck and mix well (Star anise, garlic, juniper, thyme, cognac, all the salt). The salt will seem excessive, but it is part of the preservation technique and brings the duck flavour out when you eat this spread on bread – trust me!

Heat the pot of duck fat and jelly over medium until boiling and then cool the whole pot in the fridge overnight to separate. Covered the dish of duck legs and thighs and put in the fridge for 24 hours, turning a couple of times to get flavours over the duck.


After 24 hours, remove duck and thighs (no marinating liquid that will have fallen out) to a deep baking tray just big enough for them to sit in one layer without overlapping. Reserve liquid in the fridge for the final steps.

Heat rendered duck/goose fat (this is not the small pot you put in the fridge earlier but rather an extra store you have previously procured) until liquid and pour over the duck legs and thighs. The meat should all basically be submerged. If a few bits poke out here and there its ok. Cover the whole tray in foil and put into the oven for 2 hours at

Hint - You can’t have too much liquid fat here but you can have too little. It is used as a medium to transfer heat and you won’t be eating all the fat…well, some!

After 2 hours take the tray from the oven and remove the foil. Leave until it is cool enough to handle but not cold, or the fat will solidify. Once cool, put on some latex gloves and get to work. The idea is to strip all the meat from the bones of the duck into another shallow taking tray (metal is ok now). Make sure you don’t put any cartilage or small bones in the mix. I try to pull out any herbs or spices that have snuck into the oil as well at this stage.

Once the bones are clean, get two forks and shred the duck meat apart as much as you can. Add all the juices/alcohol from the marinating tray at this stage as they have great flavour. Add warm duck fat from the cooking tray as you do this keep the mix moist and workable. The right amount of fat is just enough so it starts pooling on the shredded meat when you stop working. This amount of fat is crucial to the preservation technique as it displaces any oxygen from the duck mix.

Finally, load up your sterile jars (heat the jars in the oven, without a lid, at 100 degrees for 30 minutes and let cool) with the duck/fat mix. Pack down as much as you can to remove air bubbles and top with 5mm liquid duck fat and one small fresh bay leaf on the top before placing in the fridge to cool.

Once cool, seal with the lids and put to the back of the fridge.

To serve, remove from the fridge 20 min before consuming, scrape off the fat ‘seal’ and spread over crusty baguette with cornichon pickles.