Cook the Book: Duck Rillettes

Cook the Book: Duck Rillettes

Book CoverOddly, I'd never had duck rillettes—or any rillettes for that matter—until I moved to Brooklyn. Fortunately, Smith Street, the borough's restaurant row, changed all that. Sample, a tiny, global tapas bar with a killer cocktail list (I love their Tamarind Margarita) and a great happy hour, serves duck rillettes on toast for $6. And the relatively new bar JakeWalk often includes jars of incredibly luscious duck rillette on their menu for $7. Forget over-salted peanuts or stale popcorn—these days my bar snack of choice is much more refined.

It's also much fattier. But according to Jennifer McLagan, author of this week's Cook the Book selection, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, that isn't so bad. In her cookbook, a veritable ode to all things butter and lard, she includes instructions for making Goose, Rabbit, and Spanish-Style Pork Rillettes. Of course, there is also a recipe for classic Duck Rillettes, which I've excerpted for you today.

I recommend serving the rillettes with slices of toasted baguette and a bottle of lightly spiced pinot noir or merlot.

Win 'Fat'

In addition to excerpting a recipe each day this week, we're also giving away five (5) copies of Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes. Enter to win here.

Duck Rillettes


  • 1 1/2 pounds duck legs, neck, wings, skin, and fat
  • 10 1/2 ounces pork belly, skin removed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 orange
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • Freshly ground black pepper and fine sea salt


  1. 1.

    Cut the duck legs, neck, and wings in half. Cut the skin and fat into small pieces and the pork belly into 3/4-inch pieces. Place all duck and pork in a large bowl and add the wine. Remove a large strip of zest from the orange and set the orange aside. Peel and halve the garlic cloves, removing the germ (where the shoot starts). Add the orange zest, garlic, bay leaf, coarse salt, and coriander seeds to the duck mixture. Season generously with freshly ground pepper and toss to mix. Marinate 6 to 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

  2. 2.

    Preheat oven to 250ºF.

  3. 3.

    Tip the duck mixture with all the seasonings and wine into a heavy casserole or Dutch oven, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is falling off the bone, about 3 hours.

  4. 4.

    Remove the duck mixture from the oven, and tip it with all the fat and juices into a large, fine-mesh sieve suspended over a bowl. Empty the contents of the sieve onto a large platter, then pour the liquid from the bowl into a measuring cup and set aside. Let the meat mixture cool slightly.

  5. 5.

  6. 6.

    The cooking liquid will have separated into fat and juices. Carefully pour off the fat and set aside. Add about 1/4 cup of the juices to the shredded meat mixture so that it is very moist. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more pepper and fine sea salt if necessary. Finely grate 1 tablespoon of zest from the orange and then squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice. Stir the zest and juice into the mixture.