Rillettes de Lapin

Pure pork rillettes have been a family favourite for years but nowadays I prefer the lighter, less rich version made with rabbit. Although not at all essential a slow-cooker or continuous burning stove really comes into its own when making this spreadable terrine.

Ingredients

  • 900 g(2 lb) young rabbit
  • 680 g( lb) belly pork
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a few sprigs of thyme or serpolet
  • a sprig of rosemary
  • salt, milled pepper
  • nutmeg
  • dried thyme

Method

Rinse the rabbit in cold water; if you are lucky enough to have a wild rabbit, soak it in cold water for 1 hour, and then dry it on kitchen paper. Cut the rabbit into neat portions that will fit your pan or casserole.

Cut the rind from the pork (I keep it in the freezer for making cassoulet or slow-cooked meat dishes) and cut the belly pork into 2.5 cm(1 in) pieces.

Heat a heavy-based pan or casserole and add the pork (if necessary do this in several batches). Stir over moderate heat until the pork fat runs and the meat is slightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a slow-cooker or a plate while you brown the rabbit in the pork fat.

Mix the pork and the rabbit together in your cooking vessel. Add the bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Cover tightly and cook in a very slow oven (Mark 1, 140°C, 275°F) for 4–5 hours or overnight in a continuous burning oven on low. Or use a slow cooker set to high for 1 hour and turned down to low for 5 hours. Cook the meat until the rabbit meat falls from the bone and all the pork fat is liquid.

Discard the herbs and all the bones. Spoon the meat into a sieve over a bowl so that the fat drips through. Chop the meat on a plate or board and mash with a fork to separate the fibres. Mix the meat into the fat.

Season with salt and pepper, grated nutmeg and powdered dried thyme. Spoon into pottery bowls or dishes – the best kind are stoneware with a band of brown glaze around the rim. Smooth the rillettes level, and serve straight away or cover with cling-film or a layer of pork fat and store in the fridge for 1–2 weeks or freeze.

As a variation I sometimes add a little garlic or a strip of orange peel to the meat while it cooks. Serve rillettes at room temperature with country bread and red wine.

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