“How do you make a rillette?” Cheryl asked me when we dug into a pork and duck rillette after a long afternoon of car shopping. I replied that a rillette is just slow cooked shredded meat, kinda like pulled pork, mashed together with some fat. I’m sure you can all guess the follow-up: “Sounds easy. So you can make some, right?” Yes dear, I can. And it just so happened we had some fresh duck confit sitting in the refrigerator I could use. It’s nice when the stars and moon align like this. A little duck rillette smeared on grill toasted crostini with some cornichons, dried or candied fruit is an impressive start to any summertime patio gathering or cocktail hour.
While researching rillette basics I noticed one interesting ingredient used for flavoring: confit jelly. That’s the gelatinous substance left at the bottom of the pot you slow poached the meat in. If you don’t confit your own duck and save the jelly I’d say a reasonable substitute would be some good quality demiglace. If you don’t have access to demiglace then maybe some super reduced thick stock will do. My point is, don’t go all “woe-is-me I can’t make this now” if you’re lacking confit jelly. Improvise. Now, if you don’t have any duck confit by all means go get a duck, make confit, and get all of your rillette ingredients in one fell swoop.
Once you have these ingredients making a duck rillette is extremely simple and easy! Break up the meat, add the jelly and fat, whip the mixture on high speed in your mixer for a minute or two and voila! Duck rillette. Seriously, the whole process took maybe 5 minutes. It’s rich and full of duck flavor. The recipe below is a basic one; I didn’t experiment too much with seasonings, just some salt and pepper. I think this is actually all you really need but some orange zest probably wouldn’t hurt. Despite the lack of imagination for seasoning, this duck rillette turned out really well, not quite overpriced gastropub level, but good enough for your summer cookouts.
Duck Rillette (makes enough for a small ramekin)
- 1 duck leg confit (about 4 oz)
- 2 Tbs duck fat
- 2 Tbs confit jelly (no confit jelly, maybe use some demi-glace or thickened reduced stock?)
Remove your duck leg from its container and scrape off the fat. Peel off the skin. Break up the meat into chunks and put into mixing bowl.
Add the duck fat and confit jelly.
Using the paddle attachment turn your stand mixer on high and mix well until meat is shredded and has a spreadable paste consistency. Taste. Adjust seasoning accordingly.
Spoon into a small ramekin and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. (The rillette will keep in the fridge just like confit if you pour some fat over the top. My guess is it won’t last that long!)
Grill or toast some bread slices, spoon on the rillette.