Introduction: Kasuzuke Spring Onion Pork Rillettes
Rillettes are a French preparation of meat, usually pork (although rabbit is also popular), cut into pieces, gently cooked in lard, allowed to cool and traditionally pounded in a mortar (we will be opting for an electric mixer at this step to conserve precious elbow grease). It is "potted" in stone jars with a cap of lard to keep the air out and help preserve the meat for future snack attacks.
Kasuzuke is a traditional Japanese fermentation method of marinating vegetables in sake lees for periods of time ranging from a year or more. The vegetables pick up the flavor of the sake lees and vice versa. The result is a slightly sweet, very savory "pickled" vegetable with multidimensional complexities of flavor.
Combining these two very old and very different methods of preservation introduces us to a meaty snack with an unbelievable depth of savor.
Step 1: Mise En Place: Ingredients
8 oz Rendered Lard
2 lbs Pork Shoulder
1 jar Kasuzuke Spring Onion*
1 bu Scallion
1 bu Parsley
2 oz Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves
2 Loaves Crusty Bread
Fresh Cracked Pepper
*Kasuzuke Spring Onion and Gomashio can be sourced from Cultured Pickle Shop in West Berkeley (full disclosure: I work there, and full disclosure: it's awesome) or a Japanese market.
Gomashio is a mixture of sesame seeds, salt, and spices. It is a salty, savory, addictive topping appropriate for all gastronomic occasions.
Step 2: Mise En Place: Equipment
Electric Mixer with Paddle Attachment
Ceramic Pot with Lid
Pyrex Measuring Cup (heat proof)
Mortar and Pestle
Serving Plates / Mason Jars
Step 3: Method
Preheat the oven to 325 *F
Cut slabs of pork meat away from the bone. Cut the slabs of pork into 2 oz (1 1/2 inch) chunks. Place the meat and the bone into the pot.
Slice the kasuzuke spring onion into 1/2 inch rounds. Add both the sliced kasuzuke and the kasu paste to the pork pot.
Add the rendered lard to the pork pot and season lightly with salt, aggressively with pepper. Put the lid on the pot and place it into the oven at 325 *F for 1 hour. After 1 hour, turn the oven down to 300 *F and continue cooking for another 1 hour (thats 2 hours total, for those of us who like to count), until the meat is tender, and shreds easily with a twist of the fork.
Step 4: Meanwhile...
Peel and coarsely chop the garlic. Place it into the mortar and sprinkle a healthy amount of salt over top. The salt will provide friction and help you achieve a smooth garlic paste without also achieving carpal tunnel or another wrist fatigue injury.
Wash the parsley, if the stem is tender then it is good to use and the parsley doesn't need to be picked. Taste it and find out. Coarsely chop the parsley and a little bit of tender stem. Add the chopped parsley, a quarter at a time, to the mortar with a splash of olive oil. The oil will prevent oxidation to help keep your herb schmoo a bright green.
Slice the bread and lay it out on a sheet tray. Bake at 300 *F for 5 minutes or perhaps I should say toast to taste.
Spread the schmoo over the toasted bread and arrange aesthetically on a serving plate.
Step 5: Whip It
Remove the fork tender pork confit (cooked in its own fat) from the oven. Give it twenty minutes to cool down.
Drain the rendered lard off of the pork meat into a heat proof container.
Transfer the contents of the pot to an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Compost the bone, all done with that. Mix on low until all the chunks have been worked out.
Turn up the mixing speed to 2 (or medium low) and slowly drizzle up to 1/2 half of the lard back into the meat mixture (slowly drizzle is equal to or less than 1 fl oz per minute). The pork mixture should lighten in color as the fat is emulsified into the mix. If you see a separation of fat (it looks greasy), stop pouring and briefly turn up the speed on the mixer to incorporate the fat.
Taste the rillettes and adjust for salt and pepper. It can be served immediately or jarred up and capped with the remaining lard for later.
Step 6: Garnish and Share
This dish is essentially a spreadable pulled pork. It is very savory, very meaty, and above all, very cooked. So garnish it with something fresh (and accompany it with a blood thinning beverage) to keep your heart working properly whilst you enjoy.
Trim the ends off the scallions and slice them on a long thin bias. You can soak the slices in cold water for a few minutes to remove the allium "heat", yet keep the crisp texture.
Top the rillettes with liberal amounts of sliced scallion and even more liberal amounts of gomashio (it is not possible to add too much of this stuff). Enjoy with crisp toast, cold beer, and warm company.
Step 7: Or Hoard It for Later
If you don't want to eat the rillettes right away (what?) or have made more than you can safely consume in one sitting (doctor's orders) then you can pot it up for later. Many small jars are preferable to few large ones.
Fill a clean jar with pork rillettes. Use a spoon to tamp it down to push out any air pockets. Smooth over the top and refrigerate the rillettes for ten minutes. Pull it out from the fridge, and pour a thin layer of lard over the top to create a seal. Return to the fridge, uncovered, until the lard has solidified. Then put a lid on it and keep it in the fridge for up to a week. It's good right out of the fridge, but better at room temp, so don't forget to pull some out to temper an hour or so before snack time.