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Goose Rillettes “Pure Oie”

In January I made pork rillettes which turned out very nice. Here is my take on goose rillettes. In principle the preparation is very much the same, but the fact that an entire bird is used makes the procedure and the logistics a bit more difficult.

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Many recipes for goose rillettes include a certain amount of pork. This is done for two reasons: Pork is cheaper and pork fat is more solid than goose fat. And the layer of fat on goose rillettes will melt at room temperature, when pork is added it will be firmer.

As a little shopping tip, any commercial French goose rillettes labelled “Rillettes d’Oie” will contain a certain amount of pork. 100% goose is labelled “Rillettes Pure Oie”.

But of course using pork is a compromise on taste. If you don’t mind softer fat on top of your rillettes, here is the real thing:

gooseIngredients

  • 1 goose
  • (Additional goose fat may be needed)
  • 1/2 bottle of white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

Some like to spice up their rillettes with all kinds of fancy seasoning. For me, rillettes is all about the meat. So I keep the seasoning minimal just to add a little depth.

If your goose is fat, then everything will be fine. But some free range geese may be leaner and not have sufficient fat to allow for the traditional fat layer. In this case you might want to top up with purchased goose fat or prepare a second goose as a roast and use its rendered fat.

Special equipment

  • Meat grinder with 2 or 3 mm plate

Time needed

  • Preparation: 30 minutes + 1 night + 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 3 1/2+ hours
  • Finalising: 45 minutes

Preparation

Rinse the goose thoroughly outside and inside, then pat dry. If the goose comes with giblets, use them for something else, but the neck will be used here. Bone the goose with a sharp knife and separate lean meat and fat including skin. Wings can be left intact, legs don’t need to be boned completely.

goose_rillettes1Cut the meat and the fat into chunks and season them lightly with salt and pepper by weight. I used 15 g salt and 2 g pepper per kg. The seasoning will be adjusted in the final step. There is no need to separate them meticulously, but this helps to improve the rendering of the fat.

Cut or chop up the carcass into several pieces. Remove and discard anything that is not meat, fat or skin from the carcass, such as arteries, blood clots or remnants of organ meat. Cover everyting well and refrigerate overnight.

The next day grind the fat with the meat grinder. Heat some of the fat in a pot that is large enough to hold all of the meat and the bones. Brown neck, wings, legs and meat chunks as well as possible to get some Maillard action going. This can be done this in batches.

Deglaze with the wine, add all meat and bones to the pot including the carcass; also add the bay leaves. Finally put the rest of the ground fat on top. Cover and simmer on minimal heat for at least 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

goose_rillettes2Strain the fat into a vessel. The wine will have largely evaporated. There will be bones with attached meat, the cooked meat chunks and gristy bits that are the solids of the ground fat. Wash your hands.

Prepare a large dish to collect the meat. Remove any meat from the bones but discard all leftover skin and any stringy bits. We only want to keep the meat fibres and the gristy bits.

Then thoroughly knead the meat with your bare hands. This is essential for two reasons: Firstly you can feel any pieces of bone or cartilage that may still be present; discard those, evidently. And then this process will disintegrate the meat completely which is necessary for the texture of the final product.

Weigh the meat and mix it with goose fat in a 60:40 ratio: 600 g meat and 400 g fat for 1000 g of rillettes. The final yield should be approximately half the weight of the goose. Blend everything together thoroughly using a wooden spoon. Do not use a food processor, this would risk tearing the meat fibres. Adjust the seasoning with salt or pepper if required.

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Fill into jars or ceramic vessels and top up with a layer of goose fat. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving. Rillettes are best enjoyed on freshly toasted white bread that is still warm.

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