21 February 2009


Duck rillettes. Quite possibly one of the most delicious things on earth. Rillettes is potted meat, from the Old French rille, or "strip of lard" (Robert Historique). Traditionally made with pork, duck or other fatty meats will work.

Here we go. (Recipe inspired heavily by Jennifer Mclagan's recipe in Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient [2008])

Take a duck and take it apart. Reserve extra fat for rendering (above right), use breasts for another use (see last week) and make a damn fine stock with that carcass. Keep the bones in the legs and wings. Marinate all of that overnight with coriander, pepper, orange peel, pork belly (or blanched salt pork), bay leaves and a splash of vermouth (or white wine, the vermouth is in tribute to Julia Child, who seemed to have loved it for cooking.)

Drain and sear the meat, fat side down, until nice and dark. Cast iron is ideal. Add marinate. Cover and bake at 250º for a while — I went for 3½ hours. (Added a splash of port after an hour.) And then two more hours at 200º. And then I let it cool for an hour in the oven, uncovered.

Above left is what's left: beautiful dark meat, falling off the bones (make a second stock with those bones, it's worth it). Shred every bit of meat that you can get off the bones, and then shred every bit of fat. Work it all together and add the liquid (which you've reduced to a thick sauce) from the roasting, as well as some of the fat. A splash of calvados or brandy here is nice.

Pack it all into ramekins, and then cover with a layer of clean duck fat. Let that sit in the fridge for a few days. It'll keep like that for, they say, months. Once the fat seal is broken, eat it in a few days. (Eat at room temperature.)

And here it is, on a sourdough baguette. It is very very good. Riduculously good.


  1. I can attest to it being ridiculously good!
    Thanks for the wonderful day, Joseph!

  2. Fascinating stuff! I also love the implication that you have vermouth, port and brandy on hand. You're set to host a Victorian gentleman's post-dinner drinking and smoking session after the ladies have withdrawn to the drawing room.