amazing and cool shit, Fat, lovely things, potentially useful information, sketches say it all, things I love, tom being tom

…rillettes…

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Always, I am playing with things. At certain moments, I am inspired. Often it comes in the obscure form of someone who remarks that they’re looking for something to do with leftover bacon fat, enquiring whether or not it would be good for confit.

“Of course it would”, I say. But even better, I think immediately in the midst of the conversation, is rillettes… I’m taken aback that I’ve never seen that whole connection or possibility ever before. Happy to have friends of such similar breeding, who turn on certain gears in my head.

I come to the thought mainly because the nature of confit. The idea of the fat, really, is to cook it at a very gentle heat, and store it. It’s not a service feature. Eventually it’s liberated from it. It’s just the neighborhood the thing lived in for a while; the influence is much more subtle.

Rillettes, on the the other hand are meant to be mated to fat; it’s the signature of it really. It’s mixed into it, then poured on top to seal it. They scream for seasoning since they’re served at room temperature. Bacon fat seems to be a perfect addition.

Heat releases flavor.Things at low temperatures demand to be seasoned quite a bit more aggressively, and rillettes are no exception to that rule. Pork is, as much as I love it, often quite bland these days. It’s been bred to be non fatty and non flavorful. That’s heartbreaking, though worthy of another topic some other day…

This is my usual recipe for rillettes, outside of the addition to bacon fat. The beauty of such a thing, of course, is that there really isn’t a recipe at all when it comes to something like rillettes. It’s the perfect example of an idea, and not just an ingredient…

There are an abundance of recipes for rillettes, but I default to the simple as often as I possibly can. This is dirt simple. If you can make a grilled cheese sandwich you can make rillettes. That’s the idea of course; it’s the sort of thing that works for you and what you have on hand, not stuff you have to go out and buy.

It’s similar to confit. In essence it is only meat cooked in, then stored in fat. But it differs. The fat is balanced, to a ratio of about 1:3, and it’s seasoned since it’s not only the storage element but part of the flavor, a part of the finished product. I start always with beer – Aventinus – a wheat dopplebock with notes of clove and vanilla and raisins. It’s the perfect complement to pork. Liquid is important as you want something that will act as a buffer to the meat and the heat while the fat renders out. Eventually the liquid disappears and what’s left just adds to the flavor of the fat. Lovely. I’d probably approach it differently if I had meat from a hog raised exclusively on hazelnuts or acorns or whey. But to date I haven’t.

It’s the sort of thing that reminds one that any really good food is never rushed along. It’s the reason I find joy in things like port and cigars, and writing poems. All are activities that mate perfectly with the subtle joy of patience…

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