September 21, 2010

Pork Rillettes

I went camping last weekend. For two nights. Outside. In the rain. With bugs and critters. And rain. With lightning. And thunder. Lots of lightning. And lots of thunder.

I only agreed to go because Jerad makes camping easy. In my previous life, I attempted camping only once: After several hours of fighting over how to put up the tent & how to get a fire started with wet wood, we called it quits, packed our shit up, & headed home. Jerad, on the other hand, will have the tent set up, a fire burning, and a glass of wine in my hand within the first 30 minutes. On Friday, he went out to the camp site and set everything up before I even got there. I'm a lucky, lucky gal.

We took Arlo (our 8-month old beagle) with us & he seemed to be having a great time playing with Ashby's dog Daisy. He absolutely tuckered himself out, though, and slept all day on Sunday. I don't think he liked all the lightning & thunder Saturday night either.

Arlo Shmarlo (aka Shmarshmo or Shmarshmallow or--sometimes--Damn-dog-who-needs-to-quit-chewing-up-my-stuff!)

Our usual camping ritual involves consuming expensive wines, the best hot dogs we can get (not an oxymoron, I swear), chips & dips, and--of course--s'mores. Classic camp food. We camp a few times a year simply in order to get away from everything & reconnect with each other. It always works.

Since we were camping with another couple this weekend and were spending more than one night (something I hadn't done before), we split the meals. Ashby & Faith (well, mainly Faith) were ambitious enough to cook beef stew in a cast iron dutch oven over the campfire Friday evening. They promised us pancakes for breakfast on Sunday, but we bailed at 7:00 in the morning after spending the entire night awake, stuck in a wet tent during a thunderstorm.

Jerad made breakfast burritos with sausage, eggs, salsa & cheese on Saturday using a canister burner & skillet. However, I was a bit intimidated by cooking outside. I wasn't sure what to make & I didn't want to haul a bunch of stuff out there. So, I made pork rillettes (aka "meat butter") ahead of time to eat with bread, olives, cheeses, and apples.

I was surprised by how easy these were to make and how good they turned out! I will definitely be making this again.

Pork Rillettes
adapted from The Washington Post

Lovely iPhone photo taken at dusk. Outside. Before the storm.
makes 2 (or more) cups

2 pounds very fatty pork, such as Boston butt *
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons duck fat + more if needed to seal the rillettes
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
2 whole cloves
1/2 cup beef stock
1 1/2 cups water

* I used pork steaks. If you use a roast, cut it into 1-inch pieces.
  • Lay the pork in a slow cooker, sprinkling tablespoons of salt in between each layer. Add the duck fat, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme & cloves. Add the water or stock, cover & cook on high for about 1 hour. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 8 to 9 hours or until the meat is very tender. (I cooked them overnight.)
  • When the meat is completely tender, use tongs to transfer it to a large bowl to cool completely, removing the bones & bay leaves. Strain the broth through cheesecloth into a bowl. Let sit to room temperature.
  • Use a pestle to mix the meat until it is completely smooth, adding a little of the strained broth, if necessary, to achieve the proper texture. Taste and season with salt & pepper, if needed. Transfer the mixture to ramekins or small dishes & refrigerate for about 45 minutes or until completely chilled. Chill the leftover broth, too, to congeal the fat layer on top.
  • Spoon the cooled fat off the broth, then reheat the fat & pour a little over the rillettes to form a seal (add more duck fat if needed). Cover the rillettes & return to the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

1 comment:

freerangegirl said...

Sounds like youve got the perfect camping partner - definitley if the wine is pured withnin 30 minutes. Arlo looks gorgeous, even if he is tuckered out!