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Cooking

What a spread

Three types of rillettes you can make at home.

Pork Rillettes.

Photo by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Pork Rillettes.

Rillettes, originally a French peasant dish, are essentially a potted meat made of pork, duck, goose, rabbit, or game, either braised or cooked as confit, which is to say poached very slowly in fat and seasonings. The meat is shredded finely and eaten with some of the fat (or with butter) — think of it as the love child of pate and pulled pork.

Serve rillettes with sliced or toasted baguette and something sharp to pierce the richness, maybe grainy mustard, cornichons, or other little pickles. Packed into a Mason jar or ramekin, they also make nice hostess or holiday gifts.

PORK RILLETTES

Makes about 2½ cups

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A little clove goes a long way, and you want just a hint here.

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

½ teaspoon ground coriander

teaspoon ground allspice

Half a pinch ground cloves

1½ pounds fatty boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces

¾ cup dry white wine

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 small onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

3 bay leaves

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

1½ tablespoons cognac

In a medium bowl, mix 2 teaspoons salt, 1½ teaspoons pepper, thyme, coriander, allspice, and cloves. Add the pork, toss, cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours.

With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 275 degrees. In an ovenproof pot over medium heat, bring the wine to a simmer and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broth, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and pork, and cover. Cook in the oven until the pork is falling apart, about 3½ hours, removing cover after 2½ hours. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Transfer the pork mixture to a bowl and set aside, and pour the liquid into a narrow container for the fat to rise, about 15 minutes. Spoon off the fat (reserve and strain through cheesecloth if you plan to use fat to seal the rillettes), and reserve liquid.

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In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the pork mixture, butter, 1/3 cup reserved liquid, ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper, and the cognac on low for 30 seconds, then adjust to medium-high and beat until fully combined and smooth, about 45 seconds, stopping to scrape down the bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning and the texture (with the braising liquid), if necessary.

Scrape into 1 or more ramekins, add a thin layer of warm reserved fat, if desired, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Rest at room temperature before serving. (Can be made 2 weeks in advance.)

Photo by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

TIP Sealing rillettes with a thin layer of fat adds an authentic appearance. Clarified butter (or store-bought ghee) is fine for any of these recipes, or use pork fat for the pork rillettes and duck fat for the duck rillettes.

SALMON RILLETTES

Makes about 2 cups

12 ounces salmon fillets

1 shallot, finely chopped

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

1 tablespoon olive oil

1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon paprika

teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and black pepper

3ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped

¼ cup minced chives

Set a steamer basket in a saucepan, add water (it shouldn’t touch basket), and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the salmon fillets skin side down, cover, and steam until just slightly translucent at the center, 6 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside to finish cooking and cool to room temperature. Discard the skin and break into chunks.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak shallot in cold water for 15 minutes, then drain, dry, and set aside. In a medium bowl, mash together the butter and oil until uniform. Mash in the lemon juice, paprika, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste. Fold in the smoked salmon, shallot, and chives until well combined, then the steamed salmon. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Scrape into 1 or more ramekins, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Rest at room temperature before serving.

DUCK RILLETTES

Makes about 2 cups

This recipe is basically duck confit beaten into rillettes. When the confit is made, strain the still-liquid fat through cheesecloth and save any leftovers (it’s great for frying potatoes).

Duck legs and duck fat are sometimes available at Whole Foods (call) and almost always at Savenor’s.

Kosher salt and pepper

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme, plus

4 whole sprigs

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

6 bay leaves

4 whole duck legs (about 1¾ pounds), trimmed

1 pound duck fat

2 shallots, minced (½ cup)

1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth

In a medium bowl, mix 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, celery seed, minced thyme, parsley, and 4 bay leaves, crumbled finely. Rub the duck legs all over with the mixture, cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours.

With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 250 degrees. In an ovenproof pot over medium-low heat (choose a narrow pot so the legs can be fully submerged), melt the fat. Rinse the duck legs and dry well. Add the duck, thyme sprigs, and remaining bay leaves, cover, and cook in the oven until the meat is very tender and the bones twist out easily, 4 to 5 hours. Remove the duck legs and cool until barely warm. Remove and discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat and set aside; reserve the duck fat.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the fat and saute the shallots until softened, about 3 minutes.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the duck meat, 1/3 cup of the duck fat, shallots, broth, and 1 teaspoon pepper on low for 30 seconds, then adjust to medium-high and beat until fully combined and smooth, about 45 seconds, stopping to scrape down the bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Scrape into 1 or more ramekins, add a thin layer of warm reserved fat, if desired, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Rest at room temperature before serving. (Can be made 2 weeks in advance.)

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