Friday 30 December 2011

Rillettes to Ring in the New Year

Plans to spend the last few days of 2011 at our country cottage were thwarted by the forecast of high temperatures, hoovering around 40 0C, and hot northerly winds which carry allergens that have our eyes running, noses blocked and sinuses very painful despite taking antihistamines. Mr R is already suffering from hayfever, but it is always much worse north of the Great Dividing range where the cottage to situated. Our main purpose for visiting the cottage was to give it some much needed attention. After the recent wet Spring and summer rains, the grass and shrubbery around the house has gone berserk, hiding the house facade - so much so that our country neighbour contacted us to let us know about this uncharacteristic (for Summer) state of affairs. The weather forecast for next weekend suggests that the conditions will be far more conducive for working in the garden.

So here we sat, in Melbourne, on New Year's eve. It was only the day prior to this when I turned my mind to preparing and shopping for the event.  I had a desire to herald in 2012 eating rillettes and sipping champagne. There already was champagne in the fridge (rather a permanent fixture). However, I had to purchase the ingredients for the rillettes and cook it tout de suite so it had time to rest and infuse its delicate flavours throughout this piquant dish.

Scents and tastes can evoke strong memories. For many Francophiles, the perfume of summer lavender says "Provence" but not for me! This fragrance always reminds me of my grandparents and great aunts. Every time a  closet door was opened, a waft of lavender scent tickled my nose. So comforting.
Rillette on my tongue transposes me to lazy days in the Val de Loire, meandering down country roads, exploring chateaux, sitting in the garden shade, sipping wine, eating rillettes on delicious, fresh bread, whilst listening to the call of doves and watching the sun gradually fade, as if on its own giant  dimmer switch. Francophile heaven.
So to celebrate the promise of a new year - with a little bit France thrown in - here is my much used, pork rillettes  recipe.*  Easy to prepare and oh so miam, miam!          

Recipe: Pork Rillettes
Ingredients (metric measures)
  • 750 g pork belly or neck with the rind and bones removed
  • 150 g pork back fat (do not reduce the fat......time to forget the cholesterol and calories)
  • 100 ml dry white wine (I prefer riesling)
  • 3 lightly crushed juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
  • half teaspoon of  ground nutmeg
  • quarter teaspoon of allspice
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • I large crushed garlic clove

This is best cooked in a heavy cast iron casserole dish such. I use  French enamelled one which is parfait.


  • Preheat the oven at 140 0C = 275 0F                    
  • Cut the pork and the fat into short stripes and place them in the cast iron casserole dish.
  • Mix all of the other ingredients with the pork.
  • Seal the casserole dish with foil before placing the casserole lid on top of the foil.
  • Bake for 4 hours by which time the meat should be soft and surrounded by fat.
  • Place a sieve over a bowl, then tip the cooked contents of the casserole into the sieve.
  • Shred the pork. (This may be done using 2 forks.)
  • Season if necessary.
  • Place the meat into a 3 cup terrine or casserole dish and let cool.
  • Strain the hot fat through a very fine sieve or damp muslin.
  • Pour the pork fat over the cold meat. If the fat has solidified, it will needed to be melted first.
  • Cover and refrigerate for up to one week.
  • Serve at room temperature ............Bon appétit! 
I raise my champagne glass to you for a healthy and happy 2012 ............ Santé

*FromThe Food of France, a Journey for Food Lovers.