Rillettes

In France's Loire Valley, the first thing that customers are likely to be served in a typical neighborhood restaurant, whether they order it or not,is a crock of rillettes and some country bread to spread it on.Variations on this unpretentious dish have become widely popular and are served even in elegant North American restaurants.

Rillettes (ree yet) is a dish made of pork cooked slowly until it is very tender, then shredded, mixed with its own fat, seasoned, and packed into crocks or terrines.

Variations of the classic dish can be made by using other meats in addition to or instead of pork. Items rich in fat, such as duck and goose, are especially appropriate. Rillettes of lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, and rabbit, can be made, but some pork fat or other fat must be added to them when they are cooking.

Some chefs even serve rillettes made from fish, such as salmon or cod.The basic procedure is the same, except that the cooking time is, of course, much shorter.The cooked fish is shredded, mixed with just enough butter or other fat to give it a pleasant texture, and seasoned well.

A typical recipe for classic pork rillettes is on page 875. Follow the same basic procedure to make duck rillettes and other variations. A recipe for rillettes made with fish is on page 874.

Terrine of Foie Gras

Yield: variable, depending on size of liver

Metric

Ingredients

15-30 mL

Fresh, A-grade duck foie gras, about 1'/2 lb (700 g) Salt

White pepper Choice of wine or liquor: port, Madeira, Sauternes, cognac, or Armagnac

Per 1 ounce:

Calories, 50; Protein, 6 g; Fat, 2 g (32% cal.); Cholesterol, 165 mg; Carbohydrates, 1 g; Fiber, 0 g; Sodium, 160 mg.

Procedure

1. Soak, rinse, and devein the foie gras as described on page 871.

2. Place the liver in a bowl and season with salt and white pepper. Add the selected wine or liquor, using the smaller quantity for cognac or Armagnac; if using a sweet wine, use up to but not more than the larger quantity indicated. Turn the liver gently so that all sides are moistened.

3. Cover and refrigerate. Marinate for 24 hours.

4. Remove the livers from refrigeration about 1-2 hours before cooking time and let them come to room temperature. This is essential for the proper cooking of the terrine.

5. Pack the large lobe (or the pieces of the large lobe, if it broke during deveining) into the selected terrine, smooth side down. Top with the small lobe, smooth side up. Press the liver in firmly to eliminate air spaces. Cover with foil.

6. Place several folded kitchen towels on the bottom of a roasting pan or other pan used as a hot-water bath. (This helps insulate the terrine from strong bottom heat.) Place the terrine in the pan and add warm, not hot, water to come halfway up the sides of the terrine.

7. Place the terrine in an oven preheated to 200°-215°F (100°C). Bake until the proper doneness, as determined by an instant-read thermometer (see the following paragraph). This will take from 45 minutes to a little over 1 hour.

The terrine is done when the thermometer reads 113°-130°F (45°-54°C). At the lower end of this range, the cooled terrine will be rather pink in the center, with a soft, creamy texture. At the higher end, the terrine will be firmer and less pink, but more fat will have cooked out, resulting in a lower yield. The right degree of doneness is a matter of personal preference.

8. Remove the terrine from the hot-water bath and set on a rack to cool. After about 10 minutes, weight it with a board that just fits inside the top of the terrine, or with another terrine, and several pounds of weights. When the terrine is almost cool but the fat is still liquid, pour off all the melted fat and juices. Separate and discard the juices. Reserve the fat. Put the weights back on the terrine and continue to cool.

9. When the terrine is cold, unmold it and remove and discard any bits of blood or juice on the bottom of the foie gras. Clean out the mold and put the foie gras back in it. Heat the reserved fat just until melted and pour it over the terrine. Refrigerate until cold, then cover tightly and refrigerate for 3-5 days so the flavors can develop.

10. To unmold, dip the terrine in warm water for a few seconds, then invert on a platter or cutting board. Slice with a sharp knife dipped in hot water before each slice. Serve with a little chopped aspic and toasted brioche, or with salad greens and a mild vinaigrette made with walnut oil.

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