The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Sunday 27 May 2007

..and serve with a good bottle of Chinon. (1)

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« brune confiture de cochon »

Beloved by author Francois Rabelais in the fifteenth century, this is famous around the Loire district of France and sold everywhere in charcuteries – sometimes in thick chunks from a large terrine or packed into little pots.
Serves 8 as a first course or light lunch

a 2 lb 8 oz (1.15 kg) piece of lean belly pork, trimmed (trimmed weight 2 lb/900 g)
8 oz (225 g) back pork fat
1 dessertspoon chopped fresh thyme
½ teaspoon ground mace
1 heaped teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
10 black peppercorns
10 juniper berries
4 fl oz (120 ml) dry white wine
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C).

You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) terrine or 2 lb (900 g) loaf tin, and some kitchen foil.

With your sharpest knife, cut the pork lengthwise into long strips about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, then cut each strip again into smaller strips so you end up with pieces that are approximately ½ x ¾ inch (1 x 2 cm), and place these in a bowl. Cut the fat into small pieces too, and mix these in (the excess fat will help to keep the pork properly moist during the cooking process).

Now add the thyme, mace, salt and garlic, along with the peppercorns and juniper berries (the last 2 both crushed in a pestle and mortar or with the back of a tablespoon), and mix everything together. Transfer the whole lot to the terrine or loaf tin and pour in the wine.

Mix everything around to distribute the flavours, cover the terrine or loaf tin with foil and place it in the centre of the oven and leave it there for 4 hours. After that, taste a piece of pork and add more salt (and pepper), if necessary. Now empty everything into a large sieve standing over a bowl and let all the fat drip through (press the meat gently to extract the fat). Leave the drained fat to cool and then transfer to the fridge for 20-30 minutes so that the jelly and fat separate.
Next, take a couple of forks and pull the strips of meat into shreds (sometimes it is pounded instead, but personally, I think it’s worth persevering with the fork method). Then pack the rillettes lightly into the terrine or loaf tin (wash and dry it thoroughly first), and leave to get cold.

After that, remove the jelly from the bowl of fat, melt it gently and pour it over the rillettes. Then spread a layer of fat over the top to keep the meat moist. Keep the rillettes in the fridge (covered with foil or clingfilm) till needed; it will take about 2 hours to set. Serve with hot toast, crusty bread or crisp baked croutons.

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