Duck Rillettes – It Only Tastes Like Duck Butter with Extra Butter

Duck rillettes is one of the most amazing culinary magic tricks of all time. Even though most of the spread is made up of fairly lean duck meat, by emulsifying in a little butter, duck fat, and duck gelatin, you’ll swear the final product has the fat content of the finest foie gras torchon. By the way, I miss foie gras torchon.


The key here is to mash the large chunks of cold duck with the warm duck fat and gelatin. As the meat breaks down, the fat cools and turns the whole bowl into creamy duck spread heaven. Pack it in a crock, keep it sealed with a layer of fat, and you have an incredibly tasty snack that will last long into the winter months.

Some chefs prefer to let the duck sit overnight with the rub on, and “potpourri” in, but I skip that step, and instead let the duck cool in it’s own juices after roasting, and then sit overnight in the fridge, to continue developing flavor. Once made, it can be enjoyed right away, but if you can hold off a few days, it will really come into its own. Or eat right away, and in a few days.


I know it’s a little early for edible holiday gift ideas, but keep this one in mind. The only problem is, once you’ve given duck rillettes as a gift, you’ll never give a gift as good. Just a little heads-up. That aside, I really hope you give this preserved duck spread a try soon. Enjoy!



Ingredients for about 3 cups of Duck Rillettes:
1 whole duck (about 4 1/2 pounds)
– For spice rub:
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 generous teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
– For the potpourri:
12 cloves garlic
six 1/4-inch slices fresh ginger
3 bay leaves
peel from 1 orange (only orange parts)
1 generous bunch fresh thyme

Roast duck at 250 F. for about 5-6 hours, or until meat pulls away from the bones

To finish:
cold pulled duck meat
1 tablespoon Armagnac or cognac or other brandy
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons warm duck fat (add as needed)
2 tablespoons warm duck stock
2 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoons chive
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne

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