December 30, 2013
rillettes de deux porcs
(potted meat from two pork cuts)
Some dishes have names that inspire whimsy or simply start my gastric juices flowing. Potted meat is not one of those dishes. That’s why I’ve always had an issue with rillettes, the French dish that is usually translated into English as potted meat. Rillettes sound delicious and exciting, potted meat sounds like something akin to pet food.
I clearly remember the first time I ate rillettes. In this case it was rillettes de lapin (rabbit). It was on a very cold evening at the end of January, 1997, at the Auberge de la Truffe in the French town of Sorges. The rillettes were served with toasted baguette as part of an apéritif. It was served with wine in the Auberge’s lounge before we entered the dining room for our dinner. They were so good that I would have been happy to just dine on the rillettes and to have forgone the remainder of the meal.
Since that initial encounter with rillettes,
I’ve both prepared and eaten many variations of the dish. In 2003, during my first experiments with producing my own smoked bacon—what the French call lard fumé
—I found and prepared a recipe
that today is still my favorite preparation of rillettes.
The principal problem with that recipe and others is that they tend to make quantities that are too much for my amuse‑bouche needs. The last time I prepared my favorite rillettes recipe, I decided to see how well a share of the preparation would freeze in small portions. It froze, or more importantly thawed, perfectly.
To turn the rillettes into an amuse‑bouche requires nothing more than to arrange some of the mixture on a some lightly toasted baguette. Normally, rillettes are spread on the bread, but since this particular version can be conveniently cut into cubes, that is my preference. For service, it simply becomes a matter of matching the size of the meat cubes to a baguette slice, or visa versa.