What’s the official mascot of picnic and patio entertaining season? Cheese and charcuterie platters of course! While Rillettes may not be a part of your usual charcuterie platter vernacular, once you’ve tasted them, you’ll be singing their praises. Rillettes are essentially a pâté created from cooking meat in fat until tender enough to be shredded, then cooled with a layer of fat forming a paste over the top. Decadent? Sure, but extremely delicious. For this recipe, we’ve chosen the ever flavorful duck as our meat of choice. Once complete these Rillettes will be the crowning centerpiece of any spread. While most platter items will be store-bought for a charcuterie platter fit for entertaining, being able to tell your guests that you handmade the most impressive element will have them singing not just the Rillettes’ praises, but yours as well!
Prep Time: 30 mins + 24 hours refrigeration
Cook time: 2 hours +1 hour of cooling time and refrigeration.
Makes: 4 – 4 Ounce Jars
4 duck legs (2-3 pounds)
½ cup of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup of whole parsley leaf
10 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
Zest of 1 orange (set aside 1 teaspoon for the Rillette mixture)
Two bay leaf, chopped
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 cups of duck fat
1 cup of duck or chicken stock
2 tablespoons Bourbon
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon orange zest
⅛ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Reserved duck fat mixture (from confit)
1 tablespoon thyme for garnish
A day before you would like to serve your rillettes, rinse and dry off your duck legs and lay them flat in a baking dish.
In a bowl create a rub by combining salt, sugar, thyme leaves, orange zest, chopped bay leaf, and peppercorns. Once thoroughly mixed, rub the mixture on the legs and cover the dish with a lid or plastic and place in the fridge for twenty-four hours.
The next day, preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a skillet/Dutch oven that can fit the duck legs tightly but with minimal touching, melt the duck fat over medium heat. Meanwhile, completely rinse off all of the salt rub/mixture from the duck legs and thoroughly dry them with a towel.
Once the duck fat is totally melted in the skillet/D.O., place the dry duck legs, skin/fat side down in the duck fat. The duck legs must be completely submerged underneath the liquid.
Once all the legs are in the skillet/D.O., continue to cook the duck on the stove for ten mins. Cover and place in the oven for two hours.
After two hours, remove duck leg to test if it’s done. If the bones disconnect easily they’re done. Remove the skillet/D.O. from the oven and let it sit in a cool place for thirty minutes.
Once cool enough to handle, remove the duck legs from the pan and working into a bowl, shred the duck meat, making sure to discard all skin and bones. Be careful to remove the feather bone. It’s pointy and can be quite sharp.
Strain the duck fat that was in the skillet through a strainer into a bowl and set aside.
To finish the Rillettes:
In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a medium mixing bowl and rubber spatula) combine shredded duck meat, reserved orange zest, chopped parsley, thyme, Bourbon, clove, chicken or duck stock, and black pepper and mix on medium speed. Once well-combined, turn off mixer and divide mixture between four four-ounce ball jars or ramekins. Make sure to leave at least a quarter of an inch of space from the rim. Pat down mixture so there is a flat surface at the top.
Working with one teaspoon at a time, cover the top of the duck with the reserved duck fat (two-three teaspoons should do it). Place containers in the fridge for thirty minutes. Once the fat solidifies on top, the Rillettes are ready to serve.
*Optional: Cover the top of them with your favorite seasonal fruit compote (I love cherries in summer and apples in fall).
Garnish with more chopped thyme. Then create the cheese/charcuterie board of your dreams! Serve with pickles, cured meat, and cheeses or just spread it over some delicious crusty bread!
*Rillettes will keep for up to one week covered and refrigerated.
Suggested Wine Pairing: Greenhough Hope Vineyard Pinot Noir
Spencer Hochman is a Private Chef in Sonoma County, CA who recently moved to wine country after growing up and spending the formative years of his culinary career in various well-known kitchens in NYC. He developed his market drive Italian style during his four years at L’Artusi in the West Village. With a desire to be closer to what he feels is the gastronomic heartbeat of America, Spencer’s west coast move has allowed him to be an arm’s length from some of the best farmers, fishmongers, vintners, and artisan food purveyors in the world!