Rillettes [ree-yet], noun: finely chopped meat, cooked in fat, and shredded into a paste-like consistency. Traditionally served as a cold spread on bread.
Rillettes are sometimes referred to as "poor man's paté," but made well, this dish is right up there with the best of them! Have you ever had rillettes?
Rillettes were originally a way to use up some of the less desirable pork cuts like the neck, shoulder, or hind parts and also preserve meat for later consumption. The raw meat is cut into very small pieces and cooked slowly in pork fat until the meat is so tender that it practically disintegrates. The meat is then mashed with some of the fat until it becomes a paste and served as a cold spread.
Alternatively, the meat and fat can be transferred to another container and allowed to cool. The fat will float to the top and solidify, forming a seal and preserving the meat inside. Kept refrigerated, the meat can be stored this way for several months.
Rillettes are traditionally made with pork, but any meat can be used. We've noticed that duck and rabbit rillettes have both become very popular in fine dining restaurants lately!
Here are a few recipes to try at home:
• Five-Spice Pork Rillettes from Gourmet
• Duck Rillettes from Serious Eats
• Rillettes de Paris from the Washington Post
Are you a fan of rillettes?
Related: Possible Trend Watch: Terrines and Patés?
(Image: Flickr members C'est moi! and Stu Spivack licensed under Creative Commons)