Pork rillettes with bruschetta and shaved fennel

Pork rillettes with bruschetta and shaved fennel

Dean Cambray

The key thing when making rillettes is to have the correct 80:20 ratio of lean meat to fat. Tell your butcher that you are making rillettes and that you need a good fatty piece of pork belly. Once you’ve separated the lean meat from the fat, weigh it, and if necessary, make up the fat content with pork back fat.

Rillettes makes a great appetiser to serve with pre-dinner drinks. Use a sourdough baguette to make small slices, or serve on larger slices as a starter. As a variation, make a salsa from chopped cornichons, pickled onions, green olives and parsley, tossed with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. The main thing is to use strong salty and acidic flavours to cut through the richness of the pork fat.



Quantity Ingredient
1kg pork belly, neck or shoulder
250g pork back fat, diced
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 allspice berries, crushed
1 star anise
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
750ml apple cider (or white wine or beer)
1 small bulb fennel
2 lemons, juiced
freshly ground black pepper
big slug extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
4 slice sourdough loaf or baguette
olive oil


  1. To make the rillettes, separate the pork belly meat from the fat and cut both into small chunks. Weigh meat and fat separately and if necessary, add enough pork back fat to make up the 20 per cent ratio. Place both the fat and the lean meat in a heavy-based saucepan and add the herbs and spices. Season with salt and pepper and pour in the cider. Cover the pan and heat gently until the liquid starts to boil. Skim away any foam that rises to the surface then lower the heat to the barest simmer. Cover with a lid and cook gently for 3–4 hours, stirring from time to time. By the end of the cooking time the meat should be completely tender and immersed in fatty juices.
  2. Strain, reserving both the meat and cooking juices, but discarding the aromatics. Return the cooking juices to the pan and bring to the boil. Cook until reduced by half, then remove from the heat.
  3. Use a fork to break the meat into shreds, or for a smoother consistency, pulse it briefly in a food processor. Stir in some of the reduced cooking liquid, reserving enough to seal the surface, then tip the mixture into 6 x 6 cm ramekins. Pack in fairly well, to ensure there are no air pockets. Spoon the remaining liquid over the surface then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. As long as the surface of the rillettes is covered by a thick layer of fat, it will keep in the fridge for up to seven days.
  4. Slice the fennel as finely as you can. Place in a mixing bowl and toss thoroughly with the lemon juice. Season generously and toss with the oil.
  5. Preheat your grill or a griddle plate on your stovetop. Brush the sourdough slices on both sides with olive oil and season. Grill on both sides until golden brown.
  6. To serve, spread the hot toast with rillettes and top with a small mound of fennel salad. Finish with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
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