Like several other modern innovations in my Southern kitchen, this one was inspired by Louis Osteen’s modification of classic French rillettes at his renowned restaurant on Pawleys Island, South Carolina. The dish is quite simply pork cooked partly in its own fat, shredded, to an almost unctuous consistency, and served with a barbecue sauce. So unless you use a fatty pork shoulder (or an equal combination of lean pork and white pork fat or leaf lard), the purpose is defeated. Served on toast as a cocktail appetizer or a first course at an earthy country meal, this pork is one of the most delicious creations ever devised. You can make the dish spicier and even more interesting by adding a minced fresh chile pepper to the sauce. Do remember that the consistency of the meat should be slightly coarse, almost stringy. And when you’ve mastered this technique with pork, try next using a fatty duck or goose.
The day before you plan to serve this dish, in a large, heavy pot, combine the pork, garlic, salt, pepper, and water and bring to a low boil, skimming scum from the top. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring from time to time, to prevent the pork from browning on the bottom of the pot, for 2 to 2½ hours.
When the pork starts to come apart, break it into shreds with a fork. When the water and other juices have evaporated, transfer the pork and rendered fat to a large bowl and shred the pork into very small pieces. Add the barbecue sauce and stir till well blended with the pork. Let cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
Place the pork in a large baking pan and, using 2 heavy forks, shred it further in long pulling motions till it is bound by its own fat and the mixture is slightly coarse. Scrape into a crock or bowl, cover again, and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Remove the pork from the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving and spread on toasted bread rounds. Tightly covered, the pork will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.