It’s funny–for Super Bowl Sunday, I’m either totally in the mood for the traditional fare of the day like chili or nachos, or I feel like eating something completely inappropriate. This year was definitely the latter, so we did this whole spread of French small plates and drank a very fancy cocktail that involved turmeric-infused gin. We watched the game sporadically but given that neither of us are big football watchers (we all know my allegiance is to soccer) compounded with the fact that any team we might have remote interest completely imploded this past season it didn’t feel super-pressing to keep it on all night.
And while most of the food we made would not be at all considered traditional football fare…if you squint hard enough, it actually could work so long as you had more expected favorites on the table as well. It’s hard to go wrong with Gruyere and mustard rolled into puff pastry, and if the idea of rillettes seems foreign, I doubt that you wouldn’t at least try slow-roasted pork belly that’s been blended into a spread for toast. And we even had crudites! Instead of onion dip or ranch dressing, we simply made an allioli that was smooth and creamy and again, probably way more appealing and appropriate than you’d expect.
OK, the snails might still be a stretch, but damn they were tasty little buggers.
The rillettes, though, was perhaps my favorite of the night. When I say this recipe is dead-simple I mean it; the only considerations you have to make are allowing enough time for the pork belly to slowly roast in the oven for three hours and to make sure you have some sort of blending device to turn it into a paste. I’ve seen Anthony Bourdain’s recipe that also use pork shoulder and both belly and shoulder cook for six hours three days prior to serving it and I may try that one before the winter is up, but in terms of entry-level homemade charcuterie, this is by far the simplest way to give it a try.
It comes (as did most of our food from that evening) from Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen cookbook, and I grabbed a couple of pretzel rolls to smear all that goodness onto and holy hell did everything taste delicious. Theoretically we could have packed some away…but we didn’t. We also didn’t make two pounds of pork belly because we’re not gluttons, but still I can’t believe we handily cleaned out all of it.
If you do try to make this for your next gathering, just tell everyone that looks askance at it that it’s uncured bacon dip. If they keep looking askance at you, just stare back at them Ron-Swanson style.
adapted from Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen
- 1 lb pork belly with skin
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- Kosher salt
- Freshly crushed black pepper
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Cut the pork belly into large chunks and place in a baking dish with the herbs; roast for three hours. Let the pork belly cool enough to be handled and then peel off the pork skin and discard the herbs.
Place the belly and the rendered fat into a container that can accommodate an immersion blender and whizz until it becomes a chunky paste. Place in a ramekin and serve at room temperature.