Rillettes are an impressive entry-level charcuterie project. Making a batch is mostly a passive affair and the finished product is versatile. I started making rillettes because I often cook pork shoulder at Beast and was looking for a way to use up any scraps. The fact that they keep for a long time is an added bonus. If you’re not planning on eating them within a few days, simply pour some of the reserved duck fat (you’ll have plenty) on top of the meat to “seal” it; you can then keep the pan, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Once the rillettes have chilled, they are ready to eat. You could simply spread them on toast with orange marmalade and be more than happy. However, at Beast we developed this recipe for fried rillettes as a way to add some texture to our charcuterie plate. Serve these with Savory Tomato Confiture, Smoked Paprika and Espelette Crème Fraîche, or any of the aioli variations; shown on facing page with Aioli Vert, and Quick Pickles.
- Yield: 25 Servings
- 1 pound boneless fatty pork shoulder
- 3 ounces slab bacon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 0.125 teaspoon pink curing salt no. 1 (see salt)
- 0.125 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 0.125 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 0.66 cup coarsely chopped yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife
- 2 fresh or 4 dried bay leaves
- 4½ cups rendered duck fat
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 2¼ cups panko (or finely ground homemade bread crumbs)
- 1½ quarts canola oil
- Cut the pork shoulder and bacon into 1½-inch cubes. Place in a large, heavy Dutch oven, add the salt, curing salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and toss to mix evenly. Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaves and mix well.
- In a small pot over medium-low heat, carefully warm the duck fat just until melted. Do not allow it to come to a boil. If you pour duck fat that is too hot onto the pork, the fat will flash-fry the meat, giving it a hard exterior. Pour the melted duck fat over the meat mixture, submerging the meat completely.
- Cover the Dutch oven, place over very low heat, and cook for about 2½ hours, checking often to make sure the bubbles are tiny and infrequent, until you can smash the shoulder meat easily between two fingers. Remove from the heat and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 1 hour. Pour the contents of the pot into a fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Reserve the duck fat.
- Transfer the drained meat to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for about 3 minutes, or until uniformly mixed. With the machine running, drizzle in ⅓ cup of the reserved duck fat and mix for about 1 minute, or until homogenous. Reserve the remaining fat for another use. It will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Pack the meat mixture into a 1½-quart terrine mold or loaf pan and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or for up to 3 days. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a melon baller or spoon to scoop up 1- to 1½-inch balls of the chilled rillettes. Roll each ball lightly between your palms and place on one of the prepared baking sheets.
- Set up a breading station with 3 bowls. Place the flour in the first bowl. In the second bowl, beat the eggs until blended. Place the panko in the third bowl. One at a time, dip the rillette balls in the flour, coating evenly; and then in the egg, allowing the excess to drip off; and finally roll in the panko, again coating evenly. Set the breaded rillettes on the second prepared baking sheet. You can do this step up to 24 hours in advance and hold the breaded rillettes on the baking sheet, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator until ready to fry. You can also freeze the rillette balls on the baking sheet for up to 1 week, and then defrost them in the refrigerator for 24 hours before frying.
- To fry the rillettes, pour the oil into a large, heavy Dutch oven and heat to 350°F over high heat. Use a clip-on digital thermometer to ensure the oil doesn’t overheat. Line a baking sheet with paper towels to absorb excess oil from the fried rillettes.
- When the oil is ready, add as many rillette balls as will fit without crowding the pot (about 1 dozen). The temperature of the oil will drop when you add them, so keep your heat on high and be careful that it doesn’t exceed 375°F. Fry the rillettes, turning them gently using a spider, until deeply golden on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Use the spider to transfer the rillettes to the prepared baking sheet.
- Serve immediately (with Aioli Vert), or keep in a low (200°F) oven for up to 30 minutes while you fry the remaining batch(es).