Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Rilettes de Tours

Read on,  one of the best websites when you are preparing a holiday in the Loire Valley.

The rilettes de Tours (potted meat from Tours) have recently acquired the quality label ‘Indication Géographique Protégée’ This label which is granted by the INAO (‘Institut national de l'origine et de la qualité’, also in charge of the better known AOC label) officially certifies the quality of the product and its inseparable connexion with the Touraine region. The gustatory characteristics of the rilettes de Tours are hereby officially recognized on a national level. It also implies that the rilettes are a regional specialty. Producers who respect the original cooking techniques and ingredients will be allowed to apply the official label on the packaging.

What distinguishes the rilettes de Tours from those made and sold elsewhere?

First there is the quality of the meat. The IGP label imposes criteria regarding the age and the weight of the pigs and the general quality of the meat. It has to be cut into generous and firm pieces, which are then shortly fried to give them a golden brown colour. The quick frying is followed by a very slow cooking process that can take anything from 5.5 up to 12 hours! Wine or ‘eau de vie’ (brandy) may be added to enhance the flavour. The colour of the final product varies from golden blond to brown.

These rilettes are so good that they don’t need much more than a piece of baguette and a glass of nice Loire wine to make an excellent ‘casse-croûte’ (quick bite).

When we're in the Loire Valley, rilettes are a standard ingredient of our daily picnic. We just love them. Do do?



Carolyn said...

Yes we do, and the best we've had were in a backyard near St Aignan.

We also had award-winning ones near La Ferte Bernard, and they were delicious too, but those might have been rillons. Aren't they the same thing, just different size chunks?

Ken Broadhurst said...

I think rillons and rillettes are basically the same thing. The rillettes might be cooked longer, so that the meat really falls apart into thin shreds. Rillettes made with white wine from Vouvray are especially good. They are actually easy to make, as are rillons. You just need good pork and a lot of time. The effort is worth it. And don't forget the cornichons with that tartine de rillettes and a glass of Vouvray or Touraine Sauvignon.

Maintenant j'ai faim.

Amanda said...

I brought back a pot de rillettes made by my sister and her husband.
It was delicious and I love them, with cornichons. We can find them in the States at Whole Foods.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely love rillettes. They are unknown in Australia. Might have to have a go making some. I think Ken B put up a recipe not too long ago. mmm

Susan said...

Blimey! Are you psychic or something? I made my version of Rillettes de Tours yesterday!

ladybird said...

Carolyn, Rillons are a specialty of Touraine too, but as Ken explains there is a difference. Personally I prefer the rilettes as rillons can be a bit tough :)

Ken, I remember you posting a recipe for rilettes de lapin. They looked delicious.

Nadege, Are you allowed to bring fresh food into the US or did you 'smuggle' them in?

Sue, Ken recently posted about making rabbit rilettes. Maybe you could use his recipe.

Susan, In French there is an expression "Les grands esprits se rencontrent" ... We must be on the same wavelength :)

Jean said...

We love rillettes and always bring some back to England after a holiday. Our French teacher (who originates from Lyon) always puts them on her little shopping list, too.

ladybird said...

Hi Jean, Just curious... can you get rilettes in the UK or do you have to depend on your trips to France to buy this specialty?

Ken Broadhurst said...

Martine, good rillons — like the ones I made a year or two ago! LOL — are not tough at all. The big rillons you can buy here in the Loire Valley, in my humble opinion, need to be cooked a little more after you buy them. Cook them with lentilles, for example, or other dried beans. Or greens. If you want to eat them cold, slice the meat very thin and enjoy it on bread with cornichons.

ladybird said...

Ken, Of course, I didn't mean to offend you ... Nor the rillons you've made before, which unfortunately I've never tasted ! The rillons I bought at some local market, were just too tough and greasy and not very nice. Do you forgive me? :((

Jean said...

Martine, rillettes as such are not commonly available like they are in France, but we do have some similar products with local or regional variations.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Of course no offense, there would be no reason, Martine. I know what you mean. That's why I often cook the rillons I buy at the market. I've actually never been served rillons in a restaurant. I once asked la charcutière how they were eaten, and she said just cold, sliced, with bread, cornichons, and wine.

I used to make rillettes once in a while in California. Here in Saint-Aignan, I don't feel the need to make my own, because they are ubiquitous and good.

Amanda said...

Wow, 12 comments? Martine, don't tell anyone but I don't know how it happened; when I came back home, the rillettes jar was in my suitcase. "Someone" must have put it there by mistake. Maybe the security agent got confused. Joke aside, if a product is canned, already cooked... it is OK. They don't like raw fruits and vegetable and cheese.