If you are cooking for more people than usual at this time of year, it is a good idea to have some ready-to-serve dishes stashed away in the freezer to serve when you are too busy to cook or have an impromptu event where something a little out of the ordinary is called for. This rillette recipe fits the bill perfectly, and also allowed me to use a perfectly good, organic, albeit rather dry chicken I had to do something with.
Rillettes are really a French version of the English potted meats. They are made by long slow cooking of the meat in broth and white wine, and then potted with lots of herbs and butter. Served on slices of crusty bread with good quality pickles, they keep for at least five days in the fridge and much longer in the freezer.
You can adapt this recipe to what you prefer in the way of herbs, but I used my spruce salt, juniper berries and some fermented dandelion buds as garnish giving it a distinctively local flavour.
1 whole chicken, approximately 4 lbs.
2 Tbsp oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
1 large carrot
3/4 cup of unsalted butter
2 tsp spruce salt
1 dozen juniper berries
a handful of chopped parsley
In a large Dutch oven, brown the chicken on all sides in the oil. Pour the water and wine over it. Add 1 onion and the carrot, both roughly chopped. Cover and put in a 300 degree F. oven for about 2 1/2 hours. The chicken should be well cooked and fall away easily from the bones. Strain the broth into a bowl and discard the vegetables (or better yet use them in something else) cool, and then store the broth and the chicken separately in the fridge. There should be about 2 cups of broth. This can be done a day or two ahead.
To make the rillettes, using a couple of forks, pull away all the meat in small bite-sized strips, discarding the skin and bones. In a saucepan, cook the second onion, finely chopped in 1/4 cup of butter until translucent. Add the chicken, the rest of the butter, juniper berries and salt. Continue to cook on a low heat until most of the liquid, but not all has evaporated. If you pull the meat to one side of the pan, there should still be liquid visible at the bottom, but the whole mixture will not be covered in liquid. Just before it is ready, add the parsley, mix well and check for seasoning.
Transfer it into serving dishes and/or mason jars and cool completely, cover and refrigerate or freeze. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
I am bringing this dish to Fiesta Friday #47, hosted as always by Angie and co-hosted by Indu at Indu’s International Kitchen and Jhuls at The Not So Creative Cook. Many thanks to these three for keeping this party going this week. Feel free to drop by and see join in the fun.
December 19, 2014 at 6:17 pm
I love this and it’s such a great recipe for the holidays!
December 19, 2014 at 8:07 pm
I like this dish very much. While I love silky smooth meat, I do not love duck, but I think I could really get behind this potted chicken, and I love the flavors you used too. Perfect for the holidays!
December 19, 2014 at 10:32 pm
Thanks, Sue. It really is very smooth, buttery and easy to eat. Potted meats are not done often in this part of the world, but I hope they re-catch on.
December 19, 2014 at 9:08 pm
Wow i love make ahead yet scrumptuous dishes like this Hilda! Thanks for sharing 🙂
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December 19, 2014 at 10:33 pm
YES PLEASE! What a great Christmassy gift xx
December 20, 2014 at 11:09 am
Make-ahead meals is one of the best things , especially for those who are always on the run. This sounds fantastic, Hilda. Thank you for bringing this at FF #47. I hope you enjoy your weekend. Happy FF. 🙂
December 20, 2014 at 12:27 pm
This food would be soo flavorful. N i love make ahead meals too.
December 20, 2014 at 2:51 pm
We quite often have potted prawns – the tiny brown ones but I think doing this with chicken is such a good idea. Fermented dandelion buds? If I had a penny for every bud I’ve nipped to prevent the seeds from spreading…how do you ferment them?
December 26, 2014 at 5:41 pm
I ferment just about anything edible when it comes to buds and pods. The fermenting just involves pouring a salt brine over them, with or without other flavourings, and leaving them for a week or so, until they take on a vinegary taste. You can also just pickle them, but fermenting retains the nutrients better, nutrients which are much needed in our harsh winter. I hope you enjoy next spring’s harvest of dandelions!
December 20, 2014 at 5:28 pm
I like your recipe a lot as I am always looking for dishes I can make ahead of time and keep in the freezer. I will have to make your spruce salt next summer as I see you use it often. Looks like a fun thing to make 🙂
December 21, 2014 at 3:05 am
I love the idea of YOUR ready-to-serve dishes, Hilda. I would love to drop by your place hoping for this dish 🙂
December 26, 2014 at 5:38 pm
You would be most welcome whenever. It is always fun to treat someone who appreciates food, and I could surely learn a lot from you.
December 21, 2014 at 8:20 pm
I love chicken rilletes and yours look so lovely. I so so want these right now!
December 23, 2014 at 2:51 am
Hilda what a great idea to make rilletes when you have people at home. And having this in the fridge will be great. I love the simple flavors you have in here and the technique of cooking the chicken two ways until it is dry. That way they will keep longer. I also looked up your spruce salt and I continue to be amazed at how you come up with these amazing ways to use stuff from the garden! You are undoubtedly the most prudent and practical cook that I have come across! thanks for bringing this to Fiesta Friday and happy holidays to you! 🙂
December 26, 2014 at 5:36 pm
Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
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December 26, 2014 at 5:17 pm
I love the feeling that comes with pulling home made delicacies out of the cupboard or fridge and serving them up without the slightest effort – this recipe is exactly the type of thing I love. Thanks for sharing. Warmest greetings to you and your loved ones for a happy holiday season.
December 26, 2014 at 5:34 pm
Thanks so much, and greetings to you and yours too!
January 6, 2015 at 4:57 pm
It’s so wonderful to have back up meals in the freezer, this one qualifies as a first run. Great idea and post, I’ve only seen pork rillettes and love the idea of using chicken.
Happy New Year to you and yours.
January 7, 2015 at 9:11 pm
Thanks so much. Happy New Year to you too!