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Smoked Duck Rillettes

Makes Twelve – 3 ounce ramekins

2 1/2 pounds duck tenderloins, tendons removed
1 1/2 cups duck fat, divided
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 1/2 cups chopped shallots
2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper or to taste

optional ingredients according to personal taste
3 tablespoons armagnac or brandy
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
a few grindings of nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For serving: Toast points, for serving with, jam or marmalade, cornichons, pickled carrots, onions, radishes.

Using a stove-top smoker [1] place a tablespoon of cherry wood or oak chips in the center of the pan.  Set the drip pan over the wood chips. Spray the grate with food release spray and place on top of the drip pan. Line half of the tenderloins on the diagonal across the grate. Secure the lid leaving about a half-inch gap. Place the pan on a medium fire and watch for the smoke to appear.  When it does, close the lid completely, turn the heat to medium low and allow to smoke for about 8 – 10 minutes.

Remove the lid and check to ensure the duck is cooked.  If so, remove with tongs and set aside to cool. Pour off any accumulated juices and reserve. Clean out the burnt wood chips and repeat the process.

While the second pan of duck is smoking. Place a skillet over medium heat and add about a cup of duck fat. After the fat begins to sizzle add the black pepper and cook swirling the pan to allow the pepper to bloom. Next add the shallots and saut̩ until translucent about 8 minutes; add the garlic. Continue cooking for another 2 Р3 minutes, watching carefully so as not to burn the garlic. After the garlic is tender stir in the herbs, remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool. Return the pan to the fire and pour in the reserved juice (from both batches of duck); reduce liquid by half. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Once the tenderloins are cool, cut into thirds and place half of them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal “S” blade.  Pour in half the shallot mixture and pulse until roughly chopped.  Place in a bowl to reserve and repeat with the remaining duck and shallot mixture. Combine the second batch with the first, pour in the reduced liquid and stir to incorporate.  Heat a quarter cup or so of duck fat just until melted. Pour enough fat over the chopped duck and stir to combine to allow the rillettes to become moist but not wet. Reserve any remaining duck fat.

Pack into clean jars or ramekins and set in the refrigerator to become firm. Once firm portion the remaining liquid fat equally over the portioned rillettes just to cover. Return to the refrigerator to allow the fat to firm then top with lids and rings.

The undisturbed rillettes will last in the refrigerator for about a week or jar can be placed in the freezer for up to 6 months. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator. When ready to serve remove from the refrigerator about a half hour prior to serving.

Photo by David Schmit Photography