Duck Rillettes

From Thierry Meret

2012 Nov/Dec

Rillettes originated in the 15th century and were initially prepared with pork. Rabelais, a French Renaissance writer, referred to the dish as “brown pork jam” which explains the consistency of well-prepared rillettes.


  • 1 duck (about 6 lbs.)
  • 1-1/2 c. duck fat
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1/2 t. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 3/4 c. water
  • salt and pepper to taste


Remove the legs and wings from the duck and debone the breasts. Trim some of the skin but leave most of the fat covering. Place the duck pieces into a cast-iron pot or a soup pot. Add the duck fat, onion, thyme and five-spice powder. Add any fat and skin trimmings that you got from the duck while deboning it. Add the water and 2 t. of salt per 2 lbs. of duck. Bring to a simmer and allow the duck to cook on low heat for about 3-1/2 hours, but remove the skin trimmings after 2 hours.

Remove the duck and allow it to cool a bit. Cool the cooking fat to solidify it. Remove the remaining bones from the meat and, using 2 forks, flake the meat into a stringy pile.

When the shredded duck meat has cooled to room temperature, add 2 T. of duck fat to the meat and, using the forks, mix it in until well incorporated and the mixture looks appetizingly moist. You may have to add an extra spoon of fat if your rillettes look a bit dry. Add a few pinches of crushed black pepper and transfer the rillettes to a serving dish. Serve with toasted baguette and glasses of beaujolais.

Store leftover rillettes in a glass jar with a layer of melted duck fat on top for about eight days in the fridge. Makes about 2 lbs. of rillettes.