Pork rillettes are like a French version of the Southern classic Pulled Pork, except served in small portions on bread or crackers like a very simple pate. Rillettes are easy to make since all they are is pork which has been slow cooked with some flavorings, shredded, and then preserved in little jars with some pork fat as a protective seal.
I happened to have some fat from pulled pork which I had been saving for ramen soup base, but rillettes seemed a very good use of some of it. This posting is adopted from Serious Eats.
2 lbs. boneless and skinless pork shoulder cut into one inch chunks
½ cup rendered pork fat (or duck fat or vegetable oil)
4 bay leaves
6 fresh thyme sprigs
2 large shallots, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, cut in half
Freshly ground nutmeg, (optional)
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Put the cut pork in a 9 x 13 inch lasagna pan. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Mix with the fat or oil. Add the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, shallots and garlic, pushing them among the pork chunks. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook for 3 to 3-1/2 hours until the pork is quite tender.
With tongs remove the cooked pork chunks and put them into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Put a strainer over a bowl, and strain out and reserve the liquids in the pan. Discard the solids.
With the paddle attachment, beat the meat into shreds, starting at a slow speed and increasing to medium. When well shredded, add the reserved liquid a couple of tablespoons at a time until the shredded pork is as loose and wet as you like. I used 12 Tbs. and had about ½ cup left over. Taste for seasoning. Since it will be served cold it should be well seasoned. Here is what it looks like after being shredded.
Pack the mixture into about 4 cup preserving jars using a canning funnel, pressing down to remove any air. Cover the mixture with a layer of melted fat or oil, and add a lid. Chill in the refrigerator at least a few hours or overnight. Freeze for longer term storage.
Serve on crackers or a crusty bread, either plain or with a smear of mustard. The French also like to eat cornichons with rillettes.