I finished making the rillettes de lapin, the rabbit rillettes, that I posted about a couple of days ago. Rillettes are slow-cooked meats like pork, rabbit, or duck that is shredded and packed in pots or a terrine with a little rendered pork or duck fat to bind the shreds together.
Pressing the shredded meat into a loaf pan or other rectangular dish makes it possible to cut the rillettes into slices for serving. You have to let the rillettes cool down completely in the refrigerator before you can cut slices, the way you would cut slices of pâté. It would be good to weight the rillettes down with a brick or another dish to press them into a solid mass, but it's not absolutely necessary.
I feel like I need to issue one warning about making rillettes the way I have described. The process of preparing the meat for cooking calls for marinating it in coarse salt for 24 hours before cooking it. The idea is to then rinse the rabbit pieces under running water and cook them very slowly in, for example, duck or goose fat, along with the liquid released by the rabbit pieces as they marinated. Then you pour some of the duck or goose fat and some of the cooked marinade over the shredded meat and stir it all together while it is still warm.
Well, that marinade is very salty, especially if you've boiled it down and concentrated it. Use it sparingly — a little bit goes a long way. When you're making rillettes, pâtés, or other preparations that you plan to serve cold, you need to over-salt them slightly. At low temperatures, the food can taste bland unless you add plenty of salt. However, too much salt is never good. Better to taste as you go to make sure. At the point where you combine meat and marinade, everything is completely cooked, after all.
You don't have to serve these rillettes cold, of course. They are basically lean meat. You can combine them with cooked onions or other vegetables — carrots, mushrooms, peas — and make a kind of shepherd's pie — un hachis parmentier in French — with them. You can serve them quickly sautéed with vegetables as a meat sauce for pasta. The rillettes can be chopped up a little more finely and go into a soup like minestrone or bean soup.
I think I have to go start making lunch. Carrots, onions, mushrooms, shredded rabbit, bow-tie pasta...