I have wanted to make rillettes from our 3-4 hour slow-cooked pork belly adobo simmered in a palayok over a wood fire for a while now. Today, I am kicking myself wondering why I didn’t actually do this sooner… It turned out fantastic! A rillettes is usually a crock of shredded pork (or duck, goose, etc. that has first been cooked in fat until blissfully tender) marinated and stored in its juices and fat. It’s a bit like pate, but more chunky, read “rustic”. Usually served with slices of bread or crisped toasts, rillettes are traditionally accompanied by small pickles or cornichons and sometimes grainy or smooth mustard. It might seem a bit bizarre to apply the typically french technique to our own favorite adobo, but stick with me for a few more minutes…
If you have read my earlier posts on pork belly slow-cooked in a palayok, you would understand that this is essentially a form of pork confit that transforms the meat into a melt-in-your mouth consistency. My version has no soy sauce and since it cooks for hours, also not much of an acidic hit at all. Just intense pork flavor, the richness of the naturally rendered fat, and salt. We had a medium sized jar of adobo left in the fridge, and I decided to heat up the contents and shred the meat to make some rillettes.
All you have to do is shred the tender pork with two forks (or by hand) and remove any gristle or tendons or large blobs of fat and pack the shredded pork into a small dish. Add some of the cooking juices to the meat and cover with lard or oil that was rendered while the adobo was cooked. I placed a fresh bay leaf on top for looks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. The lard will seal in the meat and juices.
The batch of adobo that I used was less salty than usual, but it was redolent with slow cooked flavor. Because it had already been in the fridge for a few weeks, there was no need to age the rillettes for more than a few hours in the fridge. Otherwise, if starting with freshly cooked adobo, I suggest you age the finished rillettes for at least 2-3 days before serving it.
Bring the rillettes to room temperature and served with melba toasts or slices of fresh baguettes or french bread. The rillettes were still a bit cold in some of the photos above, and we were a bit hungry and impatient, so we heated up some of the toasts in a hot oven and as you spread the pork and lard, it warmed up to room temperature quickly. I sliced up some fresh homemade dill pickles and laid them on top of the pork.
Since the pork wasn’t as salty as it normally is or should be, Mrs. MM thought to sprinkle some Maldon sea salt flakes on top. This was a mouthfull of porky love. Just a few flakes of Maldon brought out the essence of the slow cooked pork. The whole wheat melba toasts were a crunchy foil to the meat and fat. So darned good and so easy to make once you have the slow-cooked pork adobo. This is definitely going in the line up of appetizers many months from now for the holiday season 2011, quite chi-chi, but oh so local. I think it will surprise many a palate used to more high brow fare. :)
Note: If you have sharp eyes and are wondering why the cover of the pig dish seems to be floating above the solidified lard, it is. I put a bit too much meat and lard in the container, so when it hardened up, I couldn’t quite put the piggy cover on snugly. :)