Makes: Approximately 15 filled 8 ounce jars
Coffee: Double Espresso with condensed milk
When we first started selling our coffee to restaurants almost twenty years ago, pork wasn’t exactly the menu staple it is today, especially the ubiquitous pork belly. We have our own theory: the rise in heritage breed animals met a generation of chefs who had never tasted real pig. In 1983, when The Pork Industry lowered the fat content of pork by about 30% to make it over as “other white meat,” the breeding/feeding changes required to create a more svelte pig were also accompanied by a real loss of flavor. Now the taste of real pork has simply knocked out these younger chefs. They fetishize the pig (ask to see their tattoos), serving it almost to the exclusion other meats. But we never lost our love of pig, and here is the rustic dish that 19th century French novelist Honoré de Balzac called “brown jam” and we call “French peanut butter,” a classic staple in our kitchen. Get some nice toasted thick bread and spread the love.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pork butt approximately 8 pounds, bones and tied (can be two pieces)
2 heads garlic, cloves peeled and smashed
3 stems fresh rosemary
1/4 bunch fresh sage
1/4 bunch fresh thyme
1/4 bunch fresh oregano
3 bay leaves
1-½ pounds smoked bacon strips, cut into thirds
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
¾ bottle white wine
1/3-cup sea salt
2 onions, peeled and chopped large
Fresh ground black pepper
You need a large, deep stock pot (with lid), placed over high heat.
Heat oil to almost smoking and sear pork on all sides. When nicely browned, add remaining ingredients around meat. Bring to boil, reduce to low heat (barely a simmer), cover and continue to cook until meat is falling apart tender, about 4 to 6 hours (you can also set and forget in an oven set at 275 degrees).
The meat must cool before continuing so this is not something you do start-to-finish all at the same time. When cooled, separate the ingredients into 3 parts:
3. Everything else or what call the “mud”
1. The Meat: Pull apart into small pieces. Although this can be paddled in food processor, it produces too fine a texture. Rustic is better. There will be a few chunks of cooked fat; add these to the “mud.”
2. The Liquid: A combination of cooking jus and fat, which will separate. Ladle off the fat and reserve separately. Some of the liquid will be put back into the recipe but not all. Save the remainder for use in a soup base or a braise. (Once chilled, it will be such a nice jelly. Be careful it doesn’t “bounce” out of the pan when you add it.)
3. The “Mud”: Here are the mushrooms, bacon, herbs, garlic, and onions. Remove and discard the hard herb stems. Place the rest in a blender with several tablespoons of the jus and purée smooth, adding more jus if necessary to thin the mixture. I like to use this mix to bind the pulled pork meat. Traditionally the fat would be used for this, and all of the vegetable garnish would be discarded. But there is too much flavor in this mix and enough good fat from the bacon so the finished rilettes is moist enough.
Fold the purée into the meat, mixing until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired (it shouldn’t need too much). Leave a little seasoning room so you can sprinkle on some sea salt after spreading the rillettes on toast.
Pack the rillettes tightly into 8 ounce jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top. Spoon some of the reserved fat over the top of the rillettes to coat completely and “seal” (discard the rest). Cover with lids and refrigerate overnight until set.