Duck Rillettes

Duck Rillettes

Among many other cooking ideas for the next period of time, I remembered about this recipe for duck rillettes which I'd prepared for the website when I was still under the impressions of the last year's holiday in Paris. "Rillettes" is actually the same as canned meat, but with slightly smaller pieces and enriched with more flavors. There are many variants of "rillettes" - pork, rabbit, chicken and, definitely, duck! For me, the duck rillettes seem perfect, the taste is very rich and the idea is interesting. It was very successful with us, we enjoyed it with a glass of red wine, fresh baguette and some pickled cucumbers - can you feel the taste too?

Any rilletes is another idea of pate for breakfast, tasty and good, from verified ingredients. Find below a classic recipe inspired by the book called "The Cooking of Southwest France" by Paula Wolfert - you can simplify the recipe as you like, you don't have to use cognac and mushrooms, they are optional.


Whole duck
3 kg
a medium duck of 2-3 kg
White onion
3 pieces
1 piece
White dry wine
1 cup
1 cup
or meat stock, if you have
Garlic cloves
3 pieces
1 tsp
Ground black pepper
0.5 tsp
+ optional 2-3 allspice berries
0.5 tsp
I added 2 strands of fresh thyme
0.5 tsp
I also added a sprig of fresh rosemary
2 tbsp
300 g
optional - I had some chanterelle mushrooms

Step by step

Step 1

I took a whole duck and I washed it well. First of all, I carefully removed the meat from the chest with a knife. I don't use it for rillettes, I freeze it for another time or I quickly make some duck breast in the pan.

Duck Rillettes - Step 1
Step 2

Next, I skin the duck (I can't be bothered to skin the wings :).

I place the fat/skin in a separate bowl, see below how I use it.

Duck Rillettes - Step 2
Step 3

Cut the remaining duck carcass into medium pieces.

Duck Rillettes - Step 3
Step 4

You can use it immediately for making rillettes, but it's tastier if you salt it, pepper it and leave it in the fridge overnight.

I did so - I sprinkled 1 teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper, covered the bowl with cling film and left it in the fridge overnight.

Duck Rillettes - Step 4
Step 5

In fact, I always start cooking the pate in the evening - I take the above steps, I marinate the meat and keep in the fridge, together with the fat, which I placed in a separate bowl.

Duck Rillettes - Step 5
Step 6

On the 2nd day, I actually get to work - I remove the duck fat from the fridge, cut it into medium pieces and melt in a Dutch oven with half a glass of water.

Duck Rillettes - Step 6
Step 7

We cook over medium heat and we mix periodically to get a good amount of melted duck fat and some delicious and crunchy greaves.

Duck Rillettes - Step 7
Step 8

Remove the greaves, place on a paper towel and enjoy them if you like.

Pour the duck lard into a cup or bowl and set aside.

Duck Rillettes - Step 8
Step 9

Prepare the vegetables and spices for the recipe.

I stuffed the allspice berries in the onion but, to be honest, I won't use them next time. I also used black peppercorns, but I recommend ground pepper. Kids don't really like "surprises/aromatic bombs" in the pate. This way, you don't have to look for them among the pieces of meat.

Duck Rillettes - Step 9
Step 10

Now place all the duck meat (the carcass cut into pieces) in a 3-4 liter Dutch oven.

Add 2 onions, 1 carrot, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme sprigs, garlic.

Pour over 1 glass of water and 1 glass of white wine.

Duck Rillettes - Step 10
Step 11

Mix well with a spoon and place the pan in the preheated oven at 160 C for 3-4 hours, until the meat comes off the bones easily.

Duck Rillettes - Step 11
Step 12

This is what it looks like when it's ready. The liquid evaporates and the meat cooks in its own fat.

Periodically, you can mix in the pan with a spoon.

Duck Rillettes - Step 12
Step 13

I left it even a little longer, but I won't do the same next time - the picture is to show you how it shouldn't be.

If you brown it too much, the meat dries more and it's not so soft and tender.

Duck Rillettes - Step 13
Step 14

After the oven, let cool a bit, then separate the meat from the bones.

Place it in a bowl, together with the juice that was released in the pan, plus the cooked vegetables, if you can still find them :)

Don't let the meat cool for too long, it will harden and you won't be able to remove it fast and easy.

Duck Rillettes - Step 14
Step 15

An option would be to cook in a little butter 1 finely chopped onion and some mushrooms, until they brown nicely, and add them to the cooked meat.

But, as I wrote above, it's optional, according to your preferences.

Duck Rillettes - Step 15
Step 16

In a small saucepan, flambe the 2 tablespoons of cognac - that is, place over heat and, when it comes to the boil, carefully light it (the kitchen hood must be shut off). You can't see the flame here, but there is one :) Pour this flambéed cognac over the meat in the bowl.

Duck Rillettes - Step 16
Step 17

I recommend grinding the whole meat, vegetable and mushroom mixture in a food processor or a blender. Don't use the highest speed and it's better to do batches because we want to get a pate-like texture with small strands of meat and not a smooth paste!

It's often recommended to grind the mixture using 2 forks, but it's a lot simpler with the blender.

Duck Rillettes - Step 17
Step 18

Place the pate in small jars, ceramic shapes, bowls etc.

Press it down as much as possible with a spoon and leave about 1cm from the edges.

Duck Rillettes - Step 18
Step 19

Pour over the duck fat we made in the first steps. Cover the pate completely.

Refrigerate until the fat thickens, then cover with lids or plastic wrap.

Duck Rillettes - Step 19
Step 20

It's usually recommended to keep in the fridge for at least 2-3 days (even a week!) before serving. This way the flavours blend properly and the taste is richer. We couldn't wait longer than 2 days :)

It's wonderful served with some pickled cucumbers, spread on some fresh bread and with a glass of good red wine...


Duck Rillettes - Step 20
Quantity: 700 g (4 small ceramic shapes)
Prep time: 180 min
Difficulty: intermediate
Ready in: 120 min
Publish date:

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