Rillettes is a traditional French dish, rather like a course rustic pâté. Once prepared, they can be kept for a week in the refrigerator, or jarred and stored for several months. Delicious served on sour dough, or crisp bread with some home made pickles or chutney! With Christmas just around the corner, this is one of my favorite things to make on Christmas eve and keep in the fridge to be served any time guests pop in and you want something savory rather than the obligatory mince pie!
1kg pork belly, skinned and boned
2 bay leaves
3 large sprigs of thyme
3 large cloves of garlic peeled
Put the piece of pork in a roasting tin or large shallow tray, and set the oven at 160°C/325°C/Gas 4.
Rub a tablespoon of salt all over the meat, add the bay leaves and thyme, the whole garlic cloves and the water. Cover with a lid if you have one available, or else with a double sheet of tightly fitted foil, then cook in the oven for 3 hours or until the pork is completely tender.
Remove the lid, lift out the meat and reserve the cooking juices, then use 2 forks to finely shred it.
Pack tightly into a bowl. Now pour the liquid that was left in the roasting tin through a fine sieve over the rillettes a little at a time and mix lightly. The idea is to add just enough of the juices to form a paste but not so much that you end up with a sloppy mixture.
Leave to cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate overnight or until set. Remove from the refrigerator and bring back up to room temperature to serve, as this makes them easier to spread.