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Pork Rillettes at a Glance
Touraine, Central France, Western Europe
Type of Charcuterie
Fatty pork shoulder, salt, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, water
Confiture de cochon, pig jam, rillettes de porc, rillettes de Tours, potted pork spread, brown jam
Pork Rillettes Description
A traditional French recipe, pork rillettes date back to the earlier times when making the most of a butchered pig was necessary. This Touraine specialty was first mentioned in cookbooks from the area in the 1480's. In the 15th century writer and philosopher Rabelais described this charcuterie product as a brown jam that is meant for long keeping.
Since this has both fat and meat, it was considered healthy and at the same time safe for long travels since the fat on top kept the meat below from oxidizing. Many years after, pork rillettes are still prepared and eaten both in France and around the world.
To make this, the fatty pork should be rubbed with salt then cubed and placed in a baking pan. The salting provides both flavor as well as curing for the meat. Spices such as peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves and thyme are added along with the water. This is then covered and braised in the oven for 3 hours or until the meat has become very tender and falls apart.
The meat is then separated from its drippings and shredded into fine pieces then packed into an earthenware container. The drippings are strained onto the packed meat and lightly mixed in before it is chilled and set.
Once set, pork rillettes will have a brownish grey color. This mixture is somewhat similar to pâté, with the same soft texture but with visible meat strands. The taste of pork rillettes may be described as rich with a pure pork and fat flavor. This simple taste is often devoid of any heavy spices or flavoring.
Traditionally pork rillettes is used as a spread and is served cold or at room temperature with toast, pickled chilies and cornichon pickles to help even out the richness. Undoubtedly, this can be served with all types of breads and crackers.
Many use this as a base for canapés or hors d'oeuvres too. Aside from being eaten with cornichon pickles, it may also be consumed with other pickled items or something similarly acidic such as shallots or red onions. Other than being used as a spread, pork rillettes are also great eaten as a dip.
Photo Credit: Sifu Renka