Culture shock comes in waves while living abroad; however, none hits as hard as longing. I found myself craving the foods that I grew up on--aka pimento cheese, pulled pork, cornbread, etc. While France gave me the traditional training, the southern boy trying to recreate and reinvent is still there. Thus, I tried to blend pulled pork and rillette. Not for everyone, but for those that praise the pig and enjoy French cuisine, I think you will be entertained by this eccentric marriage. —Matthew Bounous
Country-style Pork Ribs--aka the end cut of pork sirloin closest to ribs
Smoked Ham Hock
Red Pepper Flakes
Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Garlic--pricked with knife
Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Garlic-infused Olive Oil (preferably homemade)
Cube the country-style pork ribs into a rough, one-inch cube. And pare down the smoked ham hock--don't worry if it isn't in small pieces, you are mainly using this for the smoke flavor.
Next, toss the meat in the olive oil with the spices and herbs. Set everything into a roasting tray in a single-layer. And add the chicken stock until it is about half-way up the side of the pork.
Cook the pork for 30minutes at 500degrees, then reduce the temperature to 275degrees for the final 2 hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes. It is ready when the pork pulls apart easily. Remove from oven.
Allow the pork to cool in the cooking liquid until it isn't too hot to be shredded easily by hand. Strain the liquid from the pork and reserve the liquid--add a splash of cider vinegar to taste, which will help to cut through the richness and bolster the southern take on rillette.
Pick out the peppercorns, bay leaves and garlic cloves. You can mash one of the garlic cloves into the pork if you want a nice garlic undertone.
Shred the pork a moderate amount, so that you have a nice blend of hunks and strings. Here is where you can decide if you want to keep any of the ham hock. The meat will boost the meaty flavor, but it is not to everyone's taste.
Next choose your preferred style. You can either set the rillette in a ball jar and pour enough of the reserved juice to cover and preserve the rillette, which will grow in flavor as it ages. Or you can roll the rillette in plastic wrap for a "head cheese" approach and a more pleasant presentation. If rolling into a log, drizzle enough of the reserved jus and rendered pork fat over the meat to moisten and bind.
Place in fridge and allow to set for at least 4-hours, but preferably at least 3-days. It gives time for the jus to infuse. The jar method with a fat cap will keep nicely for up to 3-months, and the log should be used within a week or two.
As for accompaniments, I like to go with traditional charcuterie accompaniments--a nice mustard, a few seasonings, a roasted garlic clove and some pickles. Serve with crusty bread and indulge. Dusting the rillette with smoked paprika or regular sweet- or hot- paprika is a nice accompaniment as well.