A whole duck is the gift that keeps on giving. Before Christmas I used one to make duck confit. I was left with lots of meat clinging to the carcass, as well as a tub of fat. They screamed out to me, “make rillettes!” But I was too overwhelmed and tucked them away in the freezer for later.
Rillettes are a traditional French hors d’oeuvre served in a jar or ramekin. They are usually made of some type of meat (pork, fish, chicken, and duck) long-simmered in fat with herbs and aromatics until tender and spreadable. Sealed with a layer of fat, they keep in the fridge for weeks and are served at room temperature accompanied by slices of baguette or crackers. It’s a thrifty cooking technique that turns almost unusable scraps of meat into a delicious treat. Duck rillettes are particularly rich and satisfying.
Last weekend I felt inspired and removed the carcass and fat from the freezer. It was painful, but I picked off all the meat for my bastardized version of duck rillettes. I flavored them with aromatic spices and garlic, and it all came together in less than 30 minutes.
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded duck meat
- 3/4 cup duck fat, or as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- freshly ground black pepper
- kosher salt to taste
1. Combine the meat and 1/2 a cup of the duck fat in a saucepan. Turn the heat on low and stir to evenly coat the meat with the melting fat.
3. Remove the rillettes from the heat. Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture on low until the fat is evenly distributed and the meat is uniformly shredded. The rillettes should be moist and creamy but look separable. Add more fat if the mixture looks too stiff. Flavor with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pack the rillettes into glass jars. Melt the remaining fat and pour it over the rillettes to seal. Store the jars in the fridge.
Remember to bring the rillettes to room temperate before you serve them. They will keep for 3 to 4 weeks with an unbroken fat seal. But they won’t last that long, because this recipe is just as good as the long-simmered traditional variety. It’s been less than a week since I made these duck rillettes, and we’ve almost finished our stash.