• Rillettes are made by cooking meat slowly in a lot of fat until it's very tender, shredding it, and then mixing in enough of the cooking fat to form a paste, which is served on sliced bread. Originally made of pork, rillettes (meaning plank, perhaps referring to the final product and its appearance when spread on sliced bread) were traditionally made with fatty pork belly or pork shoulder. The meat was cubed, heavily salted, cured for twelve hours, and then cooked slowly over low flames until very tender. Then the flesh was raked into small shreds and blended with the warm cooking fat to form a rustic paste. In time the rillette cooking style was applied to game birds, wild rabbit, and fish. There are even seafood rillettes, including anchovy, tuna, and salmon versions. Though the fish is not actually cooked in the fat, it is blended with fat to form the characteristic paste-spread. The soft, smooth texture is a deciding factor in determining a good rillette dish. In general most rillettes are served cold, as a spread with toast points, much like a pate. Pork rillettes from the Northwestern regions of Tours and Anjou are famous for their rich texture and bronze color achieved during the cooking process. In the South of France, rillettes from the La Sarthe province are distinguished by a more rustic texture, complete with larger pieces of pork and less color. Health conscience diners may fail to appreciate the culinary merits of rillettes but some chefs are capable of realizing the potential of this age old technique. For more information and history, see:

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