Rillettes De Porc

Recently I’ve had a real craving for rillettes, the shredded, slow cooked pork, preserved with fat and herbs. One of the great joys in life is a freshly baked baguette, slathered with rich, smooth rillettes and served with cornichons and sliced shallots and it seems every time I’m in France I gorge myself silly on it. It’s not so easy to come by in this country, however, but it is obscenely simple to make.

Pork Belly, Thyme, Bay, Salt, White Pepper, Celery Salt

Soon to be rillettes

On a whim and a recommendation, I decided to buy a copy of Lindy Wildsmith’s book Cured. This is a really excellent and informative books and has a very good selection of paté, confit and terrine recipes including rillettes. What surprised me was how incredibly simple they are to make. There is an investment in time, so they’re best done on a weekend but apart from that it’s incredibly simple.

The recipe below is an adaptation of Lindy’s recipe with a few tweaks to bring out some more autumnal, herbal flavours.

Jon’s Rillette Recipe
500g belly pork
1tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 bay leaves
125 ml water.

You’ll also need a casserole dish and some sterilised pots to pack the rillettes into.

Pork inna pot. Ready for the oven.

Cube and skin your belly pork and place in a large casserole dish along with all of your other ingredients. Mix well and pour in just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, about 125ml. You can also throw the skin back in if you want to render extra fat from it. Seal the pot with a tight fitting lid. You might want to put a layer of foil between the pan and the lid if the lid is not especially tight.

Sealed in nice and tight so the flavours don't escape. This is the ADX of pots.

Place in a very low oven (Gas mark 1/4 or 80c or as low as your own will go) and cook for a minimum of eight hours. Mine went in early evening and came out at about 10am, after a grand total of 16 hours which perfumed the house with a delightful porcine aroma and made me wake up craving meat.

After 16 hours of slow cooking the meat is incredibly tender, if slightly unattractive.. You can see the rind in the background.

After a night in the oven, the pork should have cooked down into delicious, melt in the mouth chunks and all of the fat should have rendered into liquid. Remove your pan from the oven and strain through a sieve, being careful to reserve the fat that runs out.

When the meat is cool enough to work with, remove the bay leaves and rind, if using (this can now be discarded) from the stewed pork and set aside. Return the pork to the cooled casserole dish and proceed to pull it apart using two forks until it is completely shredded. While you do this, add in about a quarter to a third of the reserved fat to keep the meat moist.

Shredding with forks.

Take the bay leaves and lay them in your rillette pots. Next, take the shredded pork and pack it firmly down into the container. When all the pork is potted, take the remaining strained pork fat and pour it evenly over the meat to create a seal.

Rillettes. Waiting for a good greasing.

Set aside to chill until the fat is set firm and there you have it, finished rillettes.

These are wonderful spread on toast, stirred through a jacket potato, or even fried up with some savoy cabbage as an impromptu supper. They’re also great to keep in the back of the fridge in case of pork emergency as they keep for ages under their protective layer of fat.

mmmmm rillettes.

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Lincolnshire Sausages

Pork Shoulder, Belly Pork, Salt, Herbs

Raw ingredients for Lincolnshire Sausages. Meat in front, spices behind.

Ok, back to sausages.

Recently my partner in music Sam Atki2 came up to London for the weekend, lured by the promise of making some tunes. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) most of our weekend was spent in the production of bangers of a different kind. Under the influence of Batemans finest, Sam and I worked out a recipe for a coarse Lincolnshire style sausage using pork belly rather than the more usual back fat and lots of white pepper to give it a little kick. You can see some of the photos over on the adventures with the pig facebook page.

I’ve since gone back and tweaked the recipe and I’m pleased to report that it tastes amazing. Meaty, peppery, and like an authentic Lincolnshire sausage.

The recipe is below.

Lincolnshire sausages
600g pork shoulder
100g pork belly
150g breadcrumbs
16g salt
6g white pepper
2g ground coriander
1 1/2g sage
1 1/2g nutmeg
1g cornflour
water to bind. About 125 ml

Hog casings about 5/6 feet.

Firstly set your casings aside to soak for a couple of hours to remove excess salt.

Pork Shoulder, ham knife, Skinning

Using a jamon knife to skin pork shoulder

While these are soaking, skin your pork belly and shoulder and cut into pieces small enough to fit through the mincer.I find using a Spanish ham knife best to skin the meat, as I can run it under the skin very close to the rind whilst leaving the precious, lubricating fat in place. If you don’t have one, a filleting knife or similar thin-bladed, flexible knife would work well too.

Set aside your cubed meat and place in the freezer. Partly freezing the meat makes it much easier to feed through the mincer. Whilst the meat is chilling, weigh and combine all the other ingredients apart from the breadcrumbs.

Coarse minced pork

Next set up your mixer, fitting it with a coarse plate. You want the meat to remain fairly chunky to give the sausages some bite. Remove the meat from the freezer and feed through the mincer until you have a pile of coarse minced belly and shoulder in front of you. Transfer to a large mixing bowl or clean surface and combine with your breadcrumbs and seasonings. Mix well, adding water to help bind the ingredients together.

Combining the filling

You might want to fry a little bit of the sausage meat to check your seasoning at this point.

Fit your medium stuffing tube to your mincer (unless you have a dedicated stuffer in which case use that) and slowly stuff the mixture into your soaked hog casings until you’ve filled all of them. Twist the sausages into links and leave to rest for 24 hours before cooking or freezing. I left mine on a rack in the fridge to let any excess moisture drain off.

Finished sausages left to rest on a rack.

Grilled or fried and served with mash and a blob of mustard these sausages are some of my very favourites.

If you really can’t be bothered to make them then the Lincolnshire sausages produced by the Boston Sausage folk are also pretty damn fine.

I made double quantities of this recipe. The other half of the sausage meat will be making a star appearance in the next blog post.