Nothing says love like potted pork. I haven't made rillettes in a while and I have forgotten how good they can be. I also had them in a restaurant a few months ago and I was reminded how bad they can be. The secret, don't chop them too long in the cuisinart lest they turn into what Jane Grigson describes as a "Porridge-like slush"
I pounded mine. But wait, this post is running like a Tarantino movie, I've started in the middle, now I've go to flash back to the beginning and work my way to the end.
I wrote about rilletes in this post from 2007. Like then, I made lard then slow cooked cubed pork in it. But here's what I did different:
Pre-salting. Nothing new here, Elizabeth David mentions it in her rillettes recipe, I salted at 2% of meat (i.e. 20g for 1000g of pork). I cut the pork into small chunks, salted it and let it sit overnight.
Slooow-cooking and not too long. 200F oven until the pork just falls apart. I did mine for four hours, and they were sightly overcooked. What's overcooked? Dry fluffy fibers that feel like sawdust on the tongue. But don't worry, adding back some melted fat will remedy the situation. Again I am getting to the end when I need to get back to the middle.
I melted about 1000g of lard for my 1000g of salted cubed pork shoulder. The pork should be completely under the lard. I added a sachet: A bulb of garlic, Handful of peppercorns, fresh bay and thyme tied in a muslin cloth. Place this in a 200F oven for 3 to 4 hours. Once done, drain and reserve lard, discard sachet, and allow the cubes of pork to rest for a half an hour. After resting, mince then pound the pork. While pounding add back some of the reserved lard, to achieve a nice pate. At this point you can add some seasoning, salt, quatre épices or some acid (lemon, wine). I didn't add any of these things, the pork stood on its own. Pack the rilletes into old jam jars or a crock, leave a little headroom then cover with a half an inch of melted lard. Store in the refrigerator, but allow to come to room temperature for service. Put the rillettes out with some pickled veg and grainy mustard. My German pal likes a little lard and rillettes spread on bread with a sprinkle of flaky salt. However you do it make it yours.
Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery by Grigson
French Provincial Cooking by David
Pork & Sons by Reynaud
Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn