I’ve decided that Mum was right. Christmas IS about food as much as it is about the Nativity . The baking of it, sharing of it and eating it. I know she is smiling wherever she is in spirit. That was her mission in life, especially at Christmas. Make sure everyone has food and never goes hungry. I’ve been baking up a storm over the last couple of days. Today, for instance, I’ve put 2 smaller Christmas cakes in the oven for my daughters and realised I have to make another one for my brother. Joy! That means I get to bake more cake and we will also have a spare cake for us! 😀 Yesterday, I made something I’ve never made before but must order whenever I go out and see it on the menu. Often seen as part of a Charcuterie plate, Pork Rillettes. I used a recipe by Simon Hopkinson which you can find here;
Here is what I did and how I baked it with lots of pictures to help you out.
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. caster sugar
2 bay leaves
About half a nutmeg ( I used about half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg)
1 level tbsp. juniper berries
2 tsp black peppercorns (I used mixed peppercorns)
1.2kg belly pork, bones and rind removed, but both reserved
500g fresh pork back fat
4-5 sprigs of sage, roughly chopped ( I also added some sprigs of thyme as well)
6 large cloves of garlic, crushed and loosely chopped
200mls dry white wine
Starting bottom left corner of picture: Bay leaves, cloves, caster sugar, peppercorns, nutmeg, juniper berries, sea salt.
Using a small food processor, grind together the first 7 ingredients to a fine powder.
Cut the belly pork and fat into approximately 2 cm cubes. Add this to a large bowl and sprinkle with the powder. Thoroughly mix together with your hands, turning the meat and fat over and over, then add the bones and rind of the belly (left as large pieces making them easier to remove once cooked) into the mix. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, pre heat the oven to 140c/gas mark 1. Put all the meat, pork fat and bones into a solid based pot and add the wine.
Add the garlic and sage (and thyme if your using).
Mix everything together with your hands.
Place the pot over a low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often: this is only to bring the pot up to heat before it goes into the oven. Put on the lid and slide it into the oven. Cook for 3 hours. Remove from oven and leave to cool for about 20 minutes.
Take out the pork skin and bones and thyme sprig left overs and discard. Suspend a colander over a large bowl and tip in the contents of the pot. Allow to drain for about 5 minutes, then decant the liquid fat from the bowl below the colander into a jug, reserving the pork juices and residue left behind.
Tip the long-cooked pork back into the first bowl that has the residue juices in it and, using a hand mixer on a low setting, briefly blend the small pieces of meat and fat into shreds. Add some of the liquid fat from the jug a little at a time whilst blending with the hand mixer until it forms a creamy texture. The mixture should be floppy and glistening with fat.
( a small warning here from someone who knows 😉 make sure your bowl is deep, otherwise everything in the vicinity gets flecked with pork rillettes)
Now pack the rillettes mixture into small pots or similarly sized Kilner jars (I used mason, it doesn’t matter). Smooth over the surface and then spoon/pour over at least 1/2 cm of the remaining pork fat to seal each one. Attach the lids and refrigerate to mature for at least a week before eating. You can keep these for up to six months as long as they’re packed into clean pots with no air pockets in the mix.
I use the gratuitous photobombed image for sizing of jar comparison, thank you Jason 😀
After a week, scrape off the fat to reveal the meat. Eat with either split baguettes or crackers and some nice cornichons or even a nice spicy chutney or fruit relish if having as part of a charcuterie plate.
I had such fun making these and Jason and I cannot wait to have a taste. The smell of the Juniper berries reminded me of the Bombay sapphire gin I so like. For anyone worried about the amount of fat in this dish, your only meant to have a small amount of it at a time and it is a vital part of the dish both for taste and for preservation of the meat. Don’t fret, just enjoy!