Rillettes is a rustic pâté made from meat that's been poached in its own fat, then shredded and stored in some of that fat. Inspired by a dish at Fort Defiance, a bar in Brooklyn, New York, writer Oliver Strand makes pork rillettes in a slow cooker; the recipe works equally well prepared on the stovetop over low heat. The quick pickle of dried apricots is an ingenious sweet-tart accompaniment to the rich meat.
Plus: F&W's Pork Cooking GuideMore Pork Recipes
2 teaspoons allspice berries
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 pounds trimmed boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch pieces
In a spice grinder, combine the allspice, peppercorns and coriander and grind to a powder; stir in the cinnamon and 1/4 cup of salt. In a large bowl, toss the pork with the spice blend until well coated. Add the thyme and garlic and knead the garlic into the meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Bring the pork to room temperature. Add the melted pork fat to a slow cooker with the pork and seasonings. Cover partially and cook over low heat until the meat is very tender, 4 hours, or up to 6 hours. Let cool slightly, then, using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and garlic to a large bowl; discard the thyme. Mash the garlic and shred the pork, discarding any gristle. Stir in 1 cup of the fat and season with salt. Pack the meat into a ceramic bowl or individual crocks.
Reheat the fat and ladle a 1/2-inch-thick layer on top of the pork. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Discard the remaining fat or save it for another use. Serve the rillettes with toasts and the Pickled Apricots.
The rillettes can be refrigerated for up to 1 month. Keep the meat covered with a layer of fat.
Rich pork rillettes will pair well with a strong whiskey-based cocktail, like an old-fashioned. The dish would also be a nice match for wines that have good tannins to balance out the fat. Try a Cahors from the southwest of France.
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