While time consuming, this appetizer can be made ahead and served with crostini and seasonal spirits upon your guests’ arrival.
By Lisa Lotts
As we enter into December, I’m starting to think about entertaining. When my guests arrive, I like to welcome them with a cocktail and some nibbles. Sometimes I’ll have spiced nuts or warmed olives with zest. Always good — but sometimes I do just a little bit more. Pork rillettes with crostini, crunchy radishes and cornichons are a delicious and unexpected way to ease into the evening.
This is like making an antipasto platter, but instead of cured meats from the deli counter, I serve my own savory paté — in a jar! Since this is a “do-in-advance” recipe, I don’t have to worry about assembling bite size canapés at the last minute. More time with my friends – less time prepping! While this does take some time, it’s really easy to make and the oven does most of the work. After braising the pork with vegetables and the spice pouch, it goes into the bowl of a stand mixer and seconds later you’ve got the rillettes. Fill ramekins or those cute little mini-canning jars with the pork mixture and spoon a tablespoon of melted butter over the top to seal the potted meat from the air. Done. It’s so easy and so freakin’ good!
This rich, unctuous blend is irresistible and can I tell you how good it is with a good glass of wine or spirits? Yes, that good!
The nice thing about this is that it makes quite a bit, so you can have a few on hand when company stops by, or give some as gifts along with a sleeve of your favorite crackers or a demi-baguette.
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- pinch of ground allspice
- ½ pinch ground cloves
- 2 lbs fatty boneless country style pork ribs, cut into 1" pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup peeled, diced carrots (about 1 medium carrot)
- ⅓ cup diced leek (pale green and white parts only)
- ⅓ cup diced celery (about 1 medium celery stalk)
- ⅓ cup diced onion (about ¼ of a medium onion)
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1½ teaspoons whole grain dijon mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon cognac
- ½ stick butter, melted
- 4-5 stems fresh thyme
- 4-5 stems fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon whole peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon whole coriander
- 2 whole cloves
- grilled sourdough rounds
- french bread rounds
- cocktail onions
- additional whole grain mustard
- 1 - 8" square of cheesecloth
- kitchen string
- In a small bowl combine the salt, pepper, ground coriander, ground allspice, ground cloves. Stir to combine. Place chunks of pork in a medium bowl and sprinkle with spice blend. With your hands mix the spices into the pork until they are evenly distributed in the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add pork and cook, turning occasionally until meat is browned and some fat has rendered, about 5-8 minutes.
- Transfer pork to a bowl. Scoop 2 tablespoons of rendered fat from the pot into a small bowl and reserve for later.
- Add carrots, leeks, celery and onion to the dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are slightly softened 3-5 minutes. Add broth and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the pork and any collected juices back to the pot. Remove the pot from the heat.
- Assemble the bouquet garni by placing the thyme, parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander and cloves in the center of the cheese cloth. Draw the ends of the cheesecloth together and tie with kitchen string so that the contents can't escape the pouch. Add the bouquet garni to the pork, pressing it into the broth. Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven. Cook for 2½-3 hours, until pork is fork tender. Remove pot from the oven. Discard the bouquet garni. Transfer the pork mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment on low to medium to shred the pork and vegetables. Add dijon mustard, reserved fat, nutmeg and cognac. Blend to combine.
- Using ½ cup ramekins or canning jars, fill with pork mixture, pressing down to remove air pockets. Smooth the tops of the pork to make them as even and flat as possible. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the mouth of the ramekin or canning jar, so that there are no bits of pork or residue on the side.
- Spoon butter over each ramekin so that it covers the pork mixture. Cover and refrigerate until set. Serve with crackers, or crostini.
Lisa is a South Florida based food blogger who derives inspiration from a diverse family food-background, which includes southern comfort foods, traditional French and Caribbean cuisine. On her blog, Garlic and Zest, she explores fresh, innovative flavors and the inexorable link between food and family. Her approachable fare tastes like home.