Duck and Pork Rillette with Port Prunes and Green Peppercorns, Perfect for a Christmas lunch.

Duck & Pork Rillette: Last December my BFF Carol (of Underberg

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fame) arrived for a weekend at my home in Durban arms laden with three plump ducks, two rabbits, a gazillion eggs and a ton of veggies; all bounty from her beautiful farm. I love to eat duck but mostly only ever buy breasts from ‘The Duck Lady” stall at Shongweni Market for Asian style salads. I did once buy a whole duck and attempted to reproduce the iconic Asian style glazed, crispy duck for pancakes et al. Well, after two long days of dunking it in boiling water three times, blow drying it with a hair dryer, poaching it, frying it and goodness knows what else I produced enough meat for a few hoisin smeared, cucumber baton stuffed pancakes and vowed never to attempt it again.

With my freezer bulging at the seams all I could think about was a duck rillettes. I put the word out on Facebook that I was looking for a recipe for this French favourite and Cindy Taylor of The Only Cin sent this Fran Warde recipe back to me in a flash. My heart beamed in the knowledge that I had the perfect starter for a special luncheon that I was planning. My first go at this dish, I pretty much stuck to Fran’s recipe but as I ate it I could imagine a few more flavourings that would suit my palate and give it a bit of a Tripepi twist!

Seeing as I had never made a rillette before I consulted my epicurean crystal ball, the Larousse Gastronomique to find out more about the finer points of creating said dish. A rillette is described as, “A preparation of pork, rabbit, goose or poultry meat cooked in lard (shortenings), then pounded to a smooth paste, potted and served as a cold hors d’oeuvre.” Well, there you have it.

Durban is so incredibly hot in December that I generally try to put a cold starter on the table which is not easy when you have a household of Italians baying for pasta. Never the less, after some rather dangerous comments about how the dish resembled cat food, they woofed the whole lot down. The benefit of this dish is that you can make it days in advance which, as we all know, makes for easy entertaining especially at this time of the year when there are just so many celebrations.

My niece Melisa announced her engagement three weeks ago and planned a cheese and wine party to celebrate this wonderful moment. She gladly accepted my offer of a duck and pork rillettes to add to the table. I had the perfect opportunity to make another of these rather special creations and to put my own stamp on it. Cooking for celebrations is my absolute favourite and the outcome was truly worthy of such a special occasion. With Christmas coming up this would make a wonderful starter for your lunch or a perfect canape if you are throwing a cocktail party for friends.

Duck & Pork Rillette with Port Prunes & Green Peppercorns

My Version of Fran Warde’s Duck Rillette


1 whole duck

500g pork belly

2 onions peeled and halved

6 carrots peeled

3 sticks of celery washed and cut in half

500ml red wine

6 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled

2Tbs mustard seeds

4 bay leaves

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

6 juniper berries

500ml chicken stock

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper – season well

4Tbs fresh green peppercorns, drained

10 prunes soaked overnight in some Port and a sprig of rosemary

2 packets of smoked streaky bacon


Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2.

Add the giblets to the roasting pan for extra flavour

Joint the duck and place the pieces together with the pork into a roasting pan, add the carrots, celery, onions, bay leaves, rosemary, juniper berries, wine, chicken stock, garlic cloves, mustard seeds and seasoning and stir well.

All ready for a slow roasting to bring out all the flavour.

Cover with the lid or some tinfoil and place in the oven to cook for 3 hours. The duck I bought came with a full set of beautiful plump and very healthy giblets; add them to the roasting pan if you get them in your duck they will add lots of flavour to your rillette.

Prepare youself for the first aromas of Christmas in your home … so festive!

Remove the pan from the oven and pour off fat and juices through a sieve set over a bowl. If you have some muslin cloth, line your sieve with it and pour the juices through again, if not just sieve the juices a few time to make sure that there are no bits in it. Allow the meat to cool a little. Remove all of the duck meat from the carcass and remove all of the pork meat from the fat. As you are removing the meat break it up into small pieces and place it a separate bowl.

Line a loaf tin or silicon mould with the bacon as I have done in the photo below. You need to leave enough bacon hanging over the edge to fold over and close the top of the rillette.

I have lined the loaf “tin” with bacon and left enough hanging over the edge to close up the rillette before baking.

Add a layer of the meat mixture making sure to press it down firmly with your hands to compact the meat and avoid air bubbles

Sprinkle on a layer of fresh green peppercorns

Add another layer of meat and arrange the drained prunes down the centre

Prunes soaked in Port and fresh rosemary for a day.

Drain the prunes and arrange down the centre of your rillette. Add the port to your pan juices which you boil down to pour over your rillette before serving.

Add another layer of meat

Add a layer of the roasted onion, green pepper corns and top with carrots trimmed to square them off.

A layer of the sweet roasted onion, some more green peppercorns and cubed carrots ….

Top with another layer of the meat and close the bacon to seal the rillette.

Make sure that you compact the meat nicely by pushing it down with your hands

Pour in as much fat from the roasting pan as you can and bake at 180d for about 10 minutes or just long enough for the bacon to brown on the top.

Close up the bacon and pop it in your oven for about 10 – 15 minutes to cook the bacon and add a little colour for presentation.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

It is best to use an electric knife to cut nice neat slices.

The finished rillette.

I boiled the drained pan juices (no fat) and reduced them to about 1/3 of a cup of sauce and poured this over the rillette when I served it.

Serve with Melba toast or crusty bread and a salad – add a dollop of your favourite pickle for a little zing!

Slice the rillette with an electric knife and serve with crusty bread or melba toasts and a good dollop of your favourite pickle and an ice cold glass of your favourite vino.

This is the original recipe that I made last year.



Traditionally this is a dish that is made with the carcass of the bird. This is why I love French cooking; nothing is wasted and every part of the animal is used to create its own dish. I have chosen to make this dish with duck legs as it yields more than the traditional one, but do try making it with duck carcass if you ever have some left over.

Preparation: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour setting.

Cooking: 2 ½ hours.

Serves: 4


3 duck legs

300g pork belly

200ml white wine

2 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled

1tsp crushed mustard seeds

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

2tsp fresh green peppercorns, drained

Toasted bread slices to serve


Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2. Place the duck and pork into a roasting pan, add the wine, garlic cloves, mustard seeds and seasoning and stir well. Cover with foil and place in the oven to cook for 2 ½ hours.


Remove the pan from the oven and pour off fat through a sieve set over a bowl. Place the meat in a separate bowl and set aside until cool enough to handle.


Remove the skin and bones from the duck and shred the meat by hand. Remove the rind and any small bones from the pork and again shred the meat. Mix well, add the peppercorns, then place the mixture in a terrine, pressing down with your hands.

This is the rillette that I made last year – I did add extra booze and a few aromatics like bay and rosemary – and a good big slosh of brandy. You know your family and the flavours that they enjoy- don’t be afraid of making a recipe your own.

Heat the fat again and pass through a piece of muslin to strain. Pour the fat over the meat, making a thin layer on top. Place in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour. It can be stored for up to 1 week. Serve at room temperature with toasted bread.

I served this rillette with a delicous Chardonnay chutney that I bought at a wine farm in Cape Town. The rillette is rich so a pickle or chutney served to cut through the richness of the dish.

Damon tucking into his lunch!

This Saturday Dinner Divas (SABC2 @ 08.30am) features two incredible cooks

Usha and Kate – The Spice Girls.

Don’t miss it!

Have a wonderful Friday and as always

Buon Appetito



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