Duck rillettes

Duck rillettes

Man Food
2 or more
Billy Law

Other than cheese and pâté, rillette has to be one of the most delicious snacks that works perfectly alongside a large glass of red wine. Rillette is basically meat, usually duck or pork or both, cooked slowly in fat then shredded to form a spreadable paste. Being patient is the key to this recipe, as you will need to let the rillette sit in the fridge for a few days for the flavours to develop over time. By the way, you’ll note my recipe for quatre épices (‘four spices’ in French) actually contains five spices. I call it artistic licence.


Quantity Ingredient
4 duck legs
300g boneless pork belly, rind removed, cut into 2 cm cubes
2 garlic cloves
6 black peppercorns, lightly crushed
6 juniper berries, lightly crushed
3 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves, plus extra, to decorate
200ml dry white wine
200ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brandy
whole black peppercorns, to decorate
1 baguette, to serve
cornichons, to serve

Quatre épices

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons white peppercorns
10 cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. To make the quatre épices, grind all the ingredients to a fine powder in a spice mill or using a mortar and pestle. We only need 1 teaspoon for this recipe, so keep the remaining quatre épices in an airtight container for another time.
  2. Preheat the oven to 140°C. Place the duck legs in a roasting tin in a single layer, skin side up then cover with the pork pieces. Add the garlic, peppercorns, juniper berries, thyme sprigs, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon of the quatre épices. Stir in the wine, stock and salt. Cover tightly with a double layer of foil and slow cook in the oven for 2 1⁄2 hours, until the duck meat falls off the bone.
  3. Strain the liquid from the roasting tin into a bowl. When the juices settle, strain off the rendered fat and set aside. Keep the fat and the juices. Set aside 125 ml of the rendered fat. When the meat is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones then shred the meat with your fingers. Add a little of the strained fat and the brandy and mix well. If it still seems a little dry, add some of the reserved juices to moisten.
  4. Taste for seasoning, add more salt, pepper and quatre épices if necessary. Spoon the rillette into a clean stoneware or glass jar, compact the mixture firmly, leaving about 1 cm at the top. Pour the reserved fat on top of the rillette to seal. Decorate with extra peppercorns and bay leaves, refrigerate for a minimum of 3 days up to a week for the flavours to develop.
  5. Serve with toasted baguette slices and cornichons.
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