Pork Rillettes with Green Peppercorns

Traditionally this unctuous spread results from slow cooking an equal amount of pork meat and fat. Spread on crusty bread or toast, it pairs well with predinner drinks or serves as a satisfying first course. This recipe omits the added pork fat and uses a robust extra-virgin olive oil instead, making a slightly lighter but equally delicious version. The seasonings, quatre ├ępices, are a French standby for flavoring meats, and the green peppercorns provide a little zip.

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon ground {cloves}
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground {ginger}
1/2 teaspoon grated {nutmeg}
2 teaspoons fine {sea salt}
2  garlic cloves, peeled
1  bay leaf
2/3 cup (5 1/4 ounces) dry white wine
1 cup (8 ounces) robust extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons green peppercorns in brine, drained and rinsed
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Put the pork cubes in a large bowl. Combine the spices and salt and sprinkle them over the meat. Toss the meat until it is well covered with the spices.

Tightly arrange the meat in a casserole so that it fits in one layer. Tuck the garlic cloves and the bay leaf between pieces of meat. Add the wine and olive oil, pushing on the meat to submerge it. Add a little more oil if necessary.

Cut a piece of parchment paper the exact size of the casserole. Place it directly on top of the meat. Put a cover on the casserole.

Bring the casserole to a simmer on top of the stove, then put it in the oven.

Bake until the meat is very tender and separates easily with a fork, about 4 hours. Any fat clinging to the meat will be very soft but not completely melted.

When the meat is cooked, remove the parchment paper and the bay leaf. Put a colander over a large bowl and carefully pour the meat and liquid into the colander. Reserve the liquid. Shred each piece of meat with two forks, transferring it to a bowl as you work. Mix the green peppercorns into the shredded meat. Mix the strained liquid back into the meat. Pack the mixture in crocks for storing. Cover and refrigerate. The rillettes will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator and for 1 month in the freezer.

Bring the rillettes to room temperature before serving.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate

Preparation Time: 30-45 min

Cook Time: 4 1/4 hrs

Servings: makes 4 cups

Recipe By: Fran Gage

From:  The New American Olive Oil
Used with permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang