Pork rillettes for the pig course

I love cooking at Humble by Nature so much because no two menus are ever the same.  When guests come to the farm to do a course, the food that they eat reflects what they’ve come to learn that day.  Yesterday, it was the Introduction to Beekeeping course so the menu included honey biscuits when the guests arrived – and for lunch I made a smooth, creamy honey-infused panna cotta with fresh Herefordshire raspberries a little extra Wye Valley Honey drizzled on top.

Today, it’s the Pigs for Beginners course.  As the guests sit down for lunch, there will be Kilner jars of pork rillettes on the table, along with wild yeast sourdough bread and little pots of cornichons.  That will be followed by homemade pork pies and a salad of mixed leaves, courgette ribbons, radishes and cucumber along with crushed new potatoes with butter and mint.  I’ve also made some tomato chilli jam (for people who like something a bit spicy with their pork pie) and some basil mayonnaise.

Individual pork pies for the Pigs for Beginners lunch

I did a blog about making traditional pork pies a little while ago so thought I’d post my recipe for pork rilllettes here.  Here’s what I did (full recipe below):

I cooked some pork shoulder and pork belly very, very slowly for a few hours in goose fat (and I also used some rendered kune kune fat) to which I added garlic, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves.  The meat becomes so tender that it will fall apart if you squeeze it between your thumb & finger.  I then drained the fat off into a separate bowl, shredded the meat, stirred a little nutmeg and mixed spice into it, seasoned it, pushed it into Kilner jars, cooled it and then covered it with a thick layer of the liquid fat before cooling it again so that it became perfectly sealed with the goose fat (in the same way you’d store a duck confit).

I always serve the pork rillettes with toast and cornichons or small pickled onions because the sharpness of the cornichons cuts beautifully through the fattiness of the pork and brings out the flavours really well.

Here’s the recipe.

PORK RILLETTES

Makes enough to fill 8 small (125ml) Kilner jars or 4 medium (250ml) Kilner jars

  • 500g pork belly
  • 500g pork shoulder, deboned & rind removed
  • 300g goose fat or rendered pork fat
  • 100ml water
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 3 sprigs each of rosemary and thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • a pinch of mixed spice

Toast and cornichons to serve

  • - Cut the pork into thumb-sized strips
  • - Put the pork, fat, water and garlic into a wide, heavy-based saucepan
  • - Tie up the herbs with a piece of string to make a bouquet garni and add to the pan
  • - Cook over a very low heat (so that the liquid is trembling but not bubbling – tiny ‘champagne’ bubbles are fine but no bigger than that) for about 4 hours.  You may have to raise the pan higher above the heat if you can’t get the heat low enough (I double up my pan rests so the pan is further away from the flame).
  • - The meat is cooked when it is completely tender and breaks up when you squash it between your thumb and finger
  • - Drain off the fat into a separate bowl, cover and set aside until needed
  • - Shred the tender meat and fat using two forks
  • - Season with salt and pepper (add a tiny bit, stir in, taste and add a bit more to ensure you don’t over- or under-season) and, if liked, add a little nutmeg and some ground mixed spice to taste
  • - Spoon the mixture into Kilner jars allowing at least ½” gap below the top of the jar then transfer to the fridge for 2 hours to set
  • - Once the meat mixture has set, if the bowl of drained liquid fat has solidified transfer a few spoonfuls into a saucepan and heat very briefly so that it melts again but is still fairly cool
  • - Spoon the liquid fat over the meat mixture in each jar so that the meat is covered with a ¼” layer of fat – this will create a good seal
  • - Return to the fridge and chill for a few hours or overnight before serving
  • - If you have created a seal with the fat on top, the rillettes will last for a month in the fridge
  • - Serve with sourdough toast and some cornichons

A loaf of wild yeast sourdough

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