Pork Rillette /Country Pate
This simple recipe will give you 8-10 impressive pots of French pork ‘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 – 30 mins (plus 1 day in the fridge)
Cooking time - 4 hours
Finishing – 45 mins
1 Pork Neck 1.6-2kg
3 star anise, crushed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 juniper berries, crushed
6 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
½ cup cognac/brandy/port
18g cooking salt (yes a lot)
2 litre Duck fat, rendered
8-10 Sterilised Jam Jars 300ml with lid
8-10 small fresh bay leaves
Open pork neck and rinse with cold water then pat dry with paper towel. Cut Pork Neck into cubes about 4cm in size. Put all the meat into a ceramic or glass dish or bowl (not metal if possible). Add all herbs, spices, cognac and salt on the cubed pork and mix well. The salt will seem excessive, but it is part of the preservation technique and brings the flavour out when you eat this spread on crackers– trust me!
Covered the dish of pork and put in the fridge for 24 hours, turning a couple of times to get flavours incorporated into the meat
After 24 hours, remove pork cubes to a deep baking tray just big enough for meat to sit in one or two layers below the top lip. Pour any remaining juice/marinade over the top of the meat
Heat rendered duck fat gently until is a warm liquid and pour over the pork. 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 3-4 hours at 140 oC until the pork falls a part easily
Hint - You can’t have too much liquid fat here but you can have too little. The duck fat is used as a medium to gently transfer heat, you won’t be eating all the fat…only some of it!
After 3-4 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 ready to get to work. Use a slotted spoon to remove all the pork pieces from the oil into a clean baking tray. I try to pull out any large bits or herbs or spices that have snuck into the oil as well at this stage. Then, get two forks and shred the pork meat apart by inserting the forks back to back in the middle of the pork pieces and scraping outwards from the centre. Continually add small amounts of warm duck fat from the cooking tray as you do this keep the mix moist and workable. You don't need to work it too much as its nice to have some texture at the end. The right amount of fat is just enough so it starts pooling on the shredded meat when you stop moving it around. Enough residual fat is crucial to the preservation technique as it displaces any oxygen from the meat 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 pork/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.