Duck Rillette with Damson Plum Jelly

I’ve adapted this recipe from Hugh Fernly Wittingstall and used duck instead of rabbit.  It’s just as delicious.  It takes a while to prepare, but well worth the effort.


1kg rindless pork belly cut into 2 – 3 cm chunks
3 ducks, jointed
a good bunch of thyme plus 1 tsp of finely chopped thyme leaves
8 bay leaves, torn in half
3 garlic bulbs, halved
5 cloves
1 pinch of mixed spice
ground mace
250ml of dry cider
400ml liquid rendered port back fat (from above)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 220C.  Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the chunks of belly, brown them well, then transfer them to a large, deep baking dish.  Pour off any excess fat from the frying pan, leaving a little behind.  Brown the duck pieces in this fat.  Do this is batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan.  Transfer the duck pieces to the baking dish.  Season all the meat generously with sales and pepper and tuck in the whole springs of thyme, torn bay leaves, garlic bulbs and cloves.  Sprinkle over the mixed spice and a good pinch of mace. 

Deglaze the browning pan with the cider and scrape up any bits of caramelised meat from the pan.  Pour the liquid over the meat in the dish.  Add the rendered pork fate and a glass of water.  The liquid should almost cover the meat.  Roast for 30 minutes in the hot oven, then turn it down to 140C and cook for a further 2 ½ hours.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool a bit before pulling all the duck off the bones.  Shread all the meat and place in a large bowl.  Season with pepper, more mace, the chopped thyme leaves, some cayenne pepper and lemon juice.  Pour the cooking liquor into a jug and wait for the fat to separate before skimming it off. Reserve this.  Pour the skimmed juice through a fine sieve on to the shredded meat.  Add 2 – 3 tbsp of the reserved fat too, then given the whole thing a good mix.

Pack the mixture firmly into sterilised, sealable jars, making sure there are no air pockets.  Top with a layer of the reserved fat before sealing the jars.  Once cooled, the rillettes can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks.  Serve with Damson Plum Jelly, fresh crusty bread and cornichons.


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